It’s Day 223 of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today I am featuring the 365Cincinnati Tour we took today at the Plum Street Temple.
This is the Temple that sits across the street from City Hall downtown. After walking by both the Plum Street Temple and St. Peter in Chains that day, I knew these were places that people would love to see. So we booked the tour we took today and have a tour of St. Peter in Chains coming up in December (see site for details).
From the minute you walk in the front door you are hit with the beauty of the Plum Street Temple. It is truly magnificent. Between having a new camera and a gorgeous place of worship, I took way too many pictures! So we’ll have lots o’ pics today :).
The Temple was completely restored in the mid-1990’s. The interior walls are plaster and are painted (not wallpapered). It’s hard to believe! Completely stunning!
The chandeliers are original to the Temple, which was built in 1865. They were originally gas and they have been, of course, converted to electric.
Our tour guide, the wonderful Burt Gross (a third generation member of the Plum Street Temple), told us about many of the “items” that are in every synagogue. Among them are the tablets with the Ten Commandments (stained glass in picture below) as well as the Star of David (on the top of the pillar).
And the Menora… which I learned has seven candles for the seven days of the week.
And the everlasting light, which may be hard to see in the picture but it’s a flickering light at the bimah (the raised platform from which the Torah is read).
Burt told us all about the Temple’s history. In 1853 the congregation, which started out as a group of German Jewish immigrants, set out for Albany, New York in search of Rabbi Isaac M. Wise. The congregation convinced Rabbi Wise and his family to move to Cincinnati. Little did they know that their move to engage Rabbi Isaac M. Wise as its spiritual leader would permanently alter the congregation’s course of history and that of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Wise is responsible for initiating and overseeing the construction of the Plum Street Temple. He founded the Hebrew Union College, now the oldest rabbinical school in the Western Hemisphere. He also instituted the The American Israelite, a weekly paper that is still in print today. (information supplied by our tour guide and from the Plum Street Temple’s site)
I would highly recommend going to see the Plum Street Temple if you have the chance. They do offer group tours but you must call the office and book them in advance.