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Bayshore Gardens

Honoring 100 years of worship, memories

A synagogue's centennial celebration is a time for older congregation members to share memories with the children.

By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 7, 2003

Congregation Rodeph Sholom kicked off its year-long centennial celebration Sunday with a Museum Day and scavenger hunt for its religious school students.

Families belonging to the Conservative synagogue for more than 50 years were invited to display memorabilia, heirlooms, scrapbooks and pictures.

Lots of pictures. Bar and bat mitzvah pictures. Wedding pictures. Sunday school class pictures.

Third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders circulated from table to table, gleaning historical information. The hunt had them seeking important dates, family backgrounds and past-presidents' autographs.

The youngest kids each had a printed booklet of questions that led them on fact-finding trips to more than a dozen display tables. At each, they got an answer and a stamp in their booklet.

"It forces them to become involved with the people at each table," said Warren Harris, president of the synagogue's men's club.

Seventh-graders served as docents in the social hall "museum."

So what did the children learn?

"I learned my grandfather was a past-president," said Josh Bobo, 9, who attends Berkeley Prep. The Bobo family has belonged to the synagogue for four generations.

"I learned that the Hillel School used to be here in this building," said Marci LeVine, 13, who attends Hillel herself.

What else? Bernice Wolf was Rodeph Sholom's first female president, back in 1986. Sam and Doris Verkauf were married in the synagogue by Rabbi Adolph Burger 64 years ago. Sam, 87, sang in the choir when he was a little boy and grew up to become president. Doris served as sisterhood president.

At the Steinberg family table, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ralph Steinberg flipped through his wedding album. He joined Rodeph Sholom in 1949 as a college student when he was recruited to play baseball for the University of Tampa. He married Tampa native Marlene Greenberg and they raised three children.

"I asked her out for a date and she said, 'No, I'm reading a book.' I thought that was great," he recalled with a grin.

Other facts disseminated that morning:

Rodeph Sholom congregants originally followed Orthodox Jewish customs, back when they worshiped in a building at 309 E Palm Ave. The current building at 2713 Bayshore Boulevard was built in 1969 and dedicated in 1970.

The centennial celebration continues. Each month a Shabbat service will honor leaders of the congregation, such as past presidents (March 21), directors (May 16) and lifetime members (Oct. 17). The year-long festivities culminate with a black-tie optional dinner dance on Nov. 15 at the Hyatt Regency Tampa.

-- Amy Scherzer can be reached at 226-3332 or .

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