Story Walk: Temple

Story Walk: "Temple"

The Temple by John Lovenheim

When I was a boy, I lived on Canterbury Road near Park Avenue. We were members of Temple B’rith Kodesh on Gibbs Street. Sunday school, Hebrew school, Jewish Holidays, dance lessons, socials, Bar Mitzvahs, funerals and weddings all took place in the Temple on Gibbs. In 1960, when my father was President of the Synagogue, the temple moved to a new suburban location on Elmwood Avenue. The old Temple of my youth was abandoned. A few years later it was torn down in favor of a blacktopped parking lot.

Much changed in that neighborhood by 1997. The Eastman School threatened to leave for the River Campus. Buildings were torn down. Old classic restaurants such as The Rascal and Eddie’s Chop House went out of business. A new dormitory was built for Eastman students. The Carlson YMCA replaced the old “Y” on Gibbs Street. Eastman Place replaced the Towne and Country Restaurant and Java’s Cafe became a fixture in the neighborhood.

In 1996 the old Temple site was sold to a developer, and eight townhouses were built and named Symphony Terrace. In 1997 we were one of the first to move in. Our dining room is where the Temple Bima (altar) was. I had my Bar Mitzvah in what is now my living room. The Ark with the torahs would have lined my back wall. I live in the old Temple. I have come home.

The courtyard of Symphony Terrace was redesigned and landscaped this fall. In our dedication ceremony, my wife, Barbara wrote a poem:

Urban Grove

tendrils of tiny newborn plants
reach into unkempt loamy soil
curl around stones from a synagogue
buried beneath lumps of pebbly earth

ancient prayers released from underground
into a cultivated garden a symphony of nature
terraced plants: itea, rhus, lamium, caryopteris
congregate around a labyrinth of flat stones

drab concrete dying pachysandra routed
wild downtown landscape becomes settled greenery
beneath autumnal skies harmonizing rain with sun
an urban garden realized peace in a city grove