Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1, 1955 -- Cornerstone of Loop Synagogue Laid Down

April 1, 1935 -- The cornerstone of the Loop Orthodox Synagogue at 16-18 North Clark Street is laid at noon, the ceremony led by the president of the congregation, Louis A. Wittenberg. The new house of worship will occupy three floors above a restaurant and will hold a two-story auditorium holding 325 worshippers. This will be the second of four homes for the congregation, the first being on the ninth floor of a building at 6 North Clark, the original home of the congregation in 1929.  The 1935 building was gutted on April 10, 1954 when the restaurant on the ground floor went up in flames as 5,000 people watched the 2-11 alarm fire. The congregation purchased that property on Clark Street in July of 1954, and construction began in March, 1955. During the building phase the sacred scrolls were moved up Clark Street in a solemn procession, and worship was held on the 21st floor of the Morrison Hotel, where today the Daley Center stands. The synagogue has undergone a fascinating transformation that mirrors the transformation of Chicago's downtown. Originally a "businessman's synagogue," with 1,000 members, drawing commuters who were already established members of their home synagogues, it today opens its doors to vacationers and out-of-town business people and provides a home congregation for all of the folks who have made downtown Chicago their home.  Its Scholar in Residence program allows Jews of all denominations to join in a weekend of Jewish learning, and there are daily mid-day Bible study classes and Saturday Torah study classes as well.

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