By Cary Shuman
Revere residents and Mayor Brian Arrigo joined Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky for a special ceremony Tuesday morning marking the demolition of the Congregation Tifereth Israel synagogue on Nahant Avenue.
The 105-year-old synagogue at the corner of Shirley and Nahant Avenues is being torn down to make way for a 30-unit, veteran-preference housing complex with commercial space on the first floor. The lower level will have a community room, laundry area, and offices for serving the veterans who will live there.
Rising Communities of Lynn is the developer for the project.
Arrigo said it was â€œa bittersweet day for all usâ€ as the city bids farewell to a popular house of worship that hosted Jewish holiday services, bar mitzvahs, wedding ceremonies, and other social gatherings.
â€œWe are here to honor the history of Congregation Tifereth Israel, and of Revereâ€™s Jewish community as a whole,â€ said Arrigo. â€œWe are also here to celebrate the siteâ€™s future.â€
Arrigo said the city is saying goodbye to a building that has stood here for over a century.
â€œIt is a building that has served generations of Revere residents,â€ said Arrigo. â€œA building that has played host to dreamers and strivers from Lithuania, from Russia, from Hungary, from Poland, and from Germany â€“ all of whom chose Revere as a place to build their new lives here in America. And all of whom kept their heritage, their culture, and their religious traditions here on Shirley Avenue.â€
The mayor recalled how the synagogue was the anchor of Shirley Avenueâ€™s vibrant Jewish community. â€œAll along this stretch once stood many hallmarks of that community â€“ bakers, butchers, cobblers and merchants, living out their American dreams here on these blocks,â€ said Arrigo.
Arrigo said that while the days of the Shirley Avenue neighborhood as a Jewish enclave have passed, â€œThey are fondly remembered, and will always be an important part of Revereâ€™s history.â€
The mayor credited Novoselsky and other leaders of the congregation for making sure that the next owners of the property are people who care about contributing to the community, and will fulfill an urgent need in housing for veterans.
â€œWe look forward to a great project on this site that will honor the legacy of Congregation Tifereth Israel while contributing to Revereâ€™s bright future,â€ concluded Arrigo.
Novoselsky paid tribute to the history of Congregation Tifereth Israel, saying, â€œWe remember the outstanding achievement and the people over the last 105 years who participated in this congregation.â€
Novoselsky said that when the congregation decided to sell the property, he searched for a broker that would find a developer who would preserve some of the history of the synagogue and also work to strive to assist veterans.
â€œI reached out to Lou Markakis of Lynnway Associates who is located in Revere,â€ said Novoselsky. â€œHe searched for a year to find the right developer (Rising Communities).â€
Novoselsky said the new housing complex will have artifacts from the synagogue, including a memorial board of Jewish members who lost their lives in World War II.
Novoselsky added, â€œAlthough we are bidding farewell to this historic structure, the congregation still conducts holiday services for its members at the Jewish chapel in the Chelsea Soldiers Home.â€