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Phila. Congregation, One of Oldest in U.S. Celebrates 125th Anniversary

October 17, 1926
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(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The Congregation Rodeph Shalom, oldest reform Congregation in America, and one of the oldest Jewish houses of worship in the United States, will celebrate the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of its founding with a three-day program which will begin on October 23.

Inaugurated as an orthodox congregation in 1802 by a group of Polish and German immigrants whose representation in Philadelphia numbered about forty families, the congregation today is headed by Rabbi Louis Wolsey, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

The Rodeph Shalom Congregation has not renounced some of the orthodox ceremonial and has consistently refused to style itself a temple.

It is expected that at this dinner which will be given on Monday at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel announcement will be made of a $2,000,000 fund to be raised for the construction of a new synagogue.

Rodeph Shalom, founded in 1802 by a handful of immigrants, without their own Rabbi, who conducted services in a single room, is today one of the richest temples of worship in the country.

It has occupied its present site at Broad and Mount Vernon Street, since June of 1871, following a succession of removals.

The pace of its development is evidenced by the salaries it is paying its spiritual leaders. In 1867 when Dr. Marcus Jastrow became its first Rabbi, the salary he received was $4,000. The present rabbi is receiving a salary of $18,000.

Dr. Jastrow conducted the services according to the orthodox ritual. The change to reform Judaism came in 1892.

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise appeared at the American Federation of Labor convention in Omaha, Neb., where he pleaded the cause of the Passaic strikers.

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