June 16, 1987
Interviewer: Interview with Lawrence Polster now about Tifereth Israel. Mr.
Polster, what are your first memories of the synagogue?
Polster: My first memories? My very first memories are when I heard my father
say that he came here from Circleville, Ohio, he lived there and moved to
Columbus in an ox and wagon in the year 1901 and we got to Columbus. Shortly
after they arrived in Columbus, I had a brother that was born. Third boy in the
family, my father was a peddler through the country. With a pack on his back at
first, and he worked and got himself an ox and wagon and he prospered and as all
the immigrants in those days did. He didnPt have a clock. He went by the
Sunday. When the Sunday started shining it was time to get up. When it got dark
it was time to quit. They weren’t union. That’s what my father used to day.
I do remember in Circleville, Ohio where we lived there that my brother and I
were taking bathes together in the washtub and there was a parade in town so my
brother runs naked to see the parade. Some of our friends there had brought him
back. Well I thought it was a comical thing in those days.
Interviewer: Was the synagogue established then? When you moved?
Polster: No. No. No. Then my father got to Columbus. He had three boys
already, and he decided we had to have some Jewish training, that’s when the
synagogue was started at the birth of my younger brother. The day he was born in
September 1901. That’s when they started talking about the synagogue. Then it
went along alright.
Interviewer: Were there only Polsters that were the first family?
Polster: There were several Polster families. The Polster families were
divided up. In my father’s family, his father had two wives’. His first wife
died and he married his second wife. My father was one of the second wives’.
So we knew the second set of children very well. The first group we didn’t
hardly know. We never saw them. He knew them but I didn’t know them. Then,
things went on and we started a school, a public school here. My mother took my
brother to school the first day. My turn come to go to school I had to be taken
there also and in the public school, to make a long story short, all the way
Interviewer: Did you have a Bar Mitzvah?
Polster: Yes. Yes. At thirteen year old, in December at my Birthday, I think
it was, I was Bar Mitzvah’d at the shul we didn’t call it temple, I’ll
tell you a joke about that. The Rabbi, Rabbi Ginsler he was a friend of Saul
Roth, Saul Roth was the secretary of the Temple for years. He’s gone but his
oldest daughter, Flora Gluck is still with us and so is another girl. In that
family there were I think ten girls and one boy, Holly Roth, So the…
Interviewer: How was your Bah Mitzvah different from today?
Polster: My Bah Mitzvah of other days? I stayed with the Rabbi. He wrote the
speech for me. He wrote what he wanted, not what I wanted, that’s right. To
this day I never forgot the word I didn’t know what it meant. We got all
through the speech and front of everyone and I asked the Rabbi what does the
word discern mean? He said, “Don’t you know?” I said, “If I
knew I wouldn’t ask you.” Because you didn’t ask me what I wanted
there. Anyway at my Bah Mitzvah there was maybe twelve or fifteen people. Women
weren’t allowed to.
Interviewer: They didn’t even sit separately, they just weren’t even
Polster: No, there were two different families. Yes. We never sat separately.
I will get to that. I never forget my mother baked about a dozen of them and my
father brought a pint of whisky and the men there had a party and that’s the
end of it.
Interviewer: Were there children there ever?
Interviewer: So you never saw another Bah Mitzvah until you had your own?
Polster: That’s right. My older brother, I don’t know if he was there of
not. I don’t think so. Because we were busy, don’t forget that children had
to work. At six years old or seven years old, we had a job to do. My father has
a store in Columbus and I had to take his lunch to him. He still maintained the
same hours sunrise to sundown, and when he’d come home at night he’s always
sit in the chair and he learned to read and write. The school he went to was of
a different nature. When he’d peddle through the country, he’s always manage
to stop at a house where there was a child at night and the child would give him
a lesson that she had that day, always a girl, I don’t know why expect the
boys didn’t pay much attention. Later years, a woman, he gave her a present
for giving his lessons. This went on, my father couldn’t do good English but
he did some English. He could write like he spoke. Getting back to Tifereth
Israel, Tifereth Israel was organized then, naturally and then papers of the
organizations name, Tifereth Israel Church.
Interviewer: Why church?
Polster: Church because the person who got the papers of state didn’t know
how to say synagogue or congregation. You see?
Interviewer: So how long did it stay a church?
Interviewer: Is it still a church? Is it still officially a church in some
state archives somewhere?
Polster: No. No. The traditional charter says church but we had changed that
ourselves, I say we the congregation in later years, maybe the same day I don’t
know whatever’s the change. All I ever heard it called was the Congregation
Tifereth Israel or they didn’t have the same right. We had the Congregation
Tifereth Israel, then we referred to it was a congregation.
Interviewer: How is the name chosen?
Interviewer: How is the name chosen? Who decided on the name and how is it
Polster: Tifereth Israel was decided by the group. Whether it was Tifereth
Israel Church or what it was for years, we had all kinds of names. The
Congregation Tifereth Israel, referred to it as the congregation, T.I., and
dozens of names until oh maybe forty or fifty years ago. They decided to name it
The Congregation Tifereth Israel. I think today they call is the Tifereth Israel
Congregation; I don’t know how they go.
Interviewer: How fast did it grow? Did it grow pretty fast?
Polster: No. It started with like twelve or fifteen members and it prospered.
They went to Columbus, it was in Columbus. They bought a, they had already. We
held our services in a Masonic Hall and of course in the Masonic Hall the women
sat upstairs with the kids. Men were downstairs. The reasons for the separation
as very simple. A man came there to pray and you couldn’t talk to him, he wasn’t
there to talk business. He dismissed his mind from business and he took his
shoes off and prayed in his stockings. Some of the older use to stand all day
long and they read the entire…But now my father was already from another
generation where he didn’t believe in that. His wife and children were
upstairs and he was downstairs and they’d make noise and he’d go shhhhhh!!
And send a signal up there…I didn’t talk to you a talked to…But then we
graduated from there and we built our first synagogue on Parsons and McCalister.
It was a cottage remodeled the cottage, remodeled it again. Then we finally put
up a synagogue there. Then the synagogue was growing and growing and I don’t
know it had maybe two hundred members already. We bought a place on Broad Street
where they are now. I forget the year, but you can get a hold of that year if
you want to.
Interviewer: How did they decide to make it a conservative synagogue, as
opposed to say an orthodox?
Polster: Yes. Because my father didn’t want his wife upstairs.
Interviewer: That’s the reason?
Polster: That’s the reason. He didn’t want her upstairs, he wanted his
wife and kids right near him so he could pray, and they could pray with him.
Interviewer: Was there a battle over that with some of the older members?
Interviewer: They agreed?
Polster: They agreed because they figured that they left their monkey
business, I like to call it, in the old country. They came here they became
modernized right away. We never did have a synagogue where the women Saturday
separately. See, some of those who refused to abide by the sat upstairs we had a
little balcony but when. We moved on to Broad Street.
Interviewer: You had a big balcony then that was for the choir right?
Polster: Yes. The choir loft and a large meeting room. It was still a balcony
if someone demanded it. Because the Jewish fathers use to tell their children
and told them…is charity and the question came up about these bearded
gentlemen who came here from Europe and they were…they… and they had a
list of people in town who would give money to them… my father, so some of
them asked the congregation why we let those people in?…You know what
that means? Alright I didn’t think you might know…Decided to give the
children an education. If one person in your group wants to be an orthodox Jew,
don’t change him. You are not to change him. If you give this bearded
gentleman a dollar bill for charity and ten cents goes to the right place that’s
charity…And they sent money back home and they had expenses here and
who paid their expenses? So he didn’t care what they did with the money, he
wanted his ten cents to get to the right place. He said if that ten cents will
buy some eggs for a family then that’s what I want. So.
Interviewer: When did they start Sunday School? When did they happen to have
kids that they were able to start Sunday School?
Polster: Oh we had Sunday school possibly in 1910 or 1915.
Interviewer: Were you over at the McCalister location then?
Polster: Yes. Yes. Yes we had… where we were taught the teachings of the
bible and so forth and the Rabbi started with us with the flood or the Old
Testament and we had we had the history of the Jewish people and the Old
Testament started and I never knew at the time and I never knew until recently
about the story of Moses. He was telling us and he told us Moses dies at nine
hundred and some years but he says that wasn’t right, that months they went by
the months; they went by the new moon.
Interviewer: I don’t know that either.
Polster: Actually months, because no one ever did live, the lord never asked
anyone to live a thousand years old. So this Rabbi, Rabbi Ginsler said or Rabbi…
was Rabbi then. We couldn’t pay much but we kept them going and then the war
came on 1912 and so forth and some of them went to war and even in later years,
Rabbi Zelizer went to war.
Interviewer: During the wars what did you do for a Rabbi?
Polster: Oh we, the seminary would send us students and there were a lot of
people who were versed in the Old Testament and set it in Europe and we had
someone leaving us and then we had Sunday School and we kept on going…course
it was a big crowd then. The Sunday School had a lot of brotherhood we had a lot
of activities. One of the activities that the brotherhood had twice that I knew
of during the election of officers, they stationed men outside the Temple with
Polster: They were make up guns and with rifles and you could come in and
they would say, will you vote for me? Yes? Go in.
Interviewer: No bullets though?
Polster: No. No. Dressed in uniform and so forth that’s one of the things
we had in temple for children. Possibly in 1918 already, maybe 1930 I don’t
know. Sunday School had the parties, year end parties. The first leader of the
Sunday School got a prize. One year we gave Temple a bicycle for a prize, a
brand new boy’s bicycle for a girl.
Interviewer: Must have been a hit anyway.
Polster: Another thing is, I’ll tell you a joke about that. In later years,
sisterhood gave a present to the choir and they gave him a Challah knife for
Interviewer: Oh that’s real good. Got a lot of use out of that one.
Polster: It’s been a joke ever since. He gave them a Challah knife.
Interviewer: When did they stop having a choir?
Polster: Early years, maybe 1935, I don’t know. Then it’s too hard to get
a choir and to get a choir master you couldn’t get and then in later years we
had a choir. We had off and on choirs and now this one here has been going on
for several years. Its been made a…
Interviewer: Do you think the founders ever for saw a day when they would
have as many members as it does now?
Polster: Yes they did. I went to a meeting when, I was on the board or I went
to a meeting anyhow and one of our members was talking and he was giving us a
little brief on years to come. He was pretty wealthy man and I don’t remember
who it was but he told us that someday you’ll have University professors. You
will have teachers with doctorate degrees on your staff, some of these days. He
said, prepare for it…Right now the synagogue the way it was good enough
for ten or fifteen years yet. Fifteen years come quick in the life of a Temple.
So, the boys and the architects told prepare for it. Well they didn’t know
whether they were going to move from that location to another location or get
there. But the majority of the member ship thought that the present location was
Interviewer: You mean on Broad Street?
Polster: Yes. Because every shul needs a downtown location and no
other shul was close there. Agudas Achim wasn’t there yet.
Polster: …just like now they gave the Rabbi a lifetime
membership, job as long as it was there.
Interviewer: Did they always do that?
Polster: No, first man they ever gave a lifetime contract to, don’t mean
Interviewer: Was there a lot of controversy over choosing a Rabbi
Polster: No. We use to get Rabbi’s to come in but for several years we
chose the wrong ones. We chose one Rabbi whose wife had a profession of some
kind and when there was something doing he had to see to the kids.
Interviewer: O Geesh.
Polster: And he had to have somebody do his work for him. Another Rabbi has
been a teacher in fact acting as a Rabbi who was accused of petting a child on
the shoulder and he admitted he did pat her. He did that.
Interviewer: Was that sort of scandal at the time?
Interviewer: He wasn’t supposed to touch her? He patted her on the shoulder
and he wasn’t supposed to touch her?
Polster: Thanking her for the good job she did. See? And she took offense to
that. She went home and said he patted me, he loved me. But anyhow.
Interviewer: Uh oh. What happened to that fellow?
Polster: Well he left town.
Interviewer: He must have been heart broken, probably didn’t mean anything
Polster: Well he had children of his own and we had quite a discussion over
it and he left town. We had another one who was here…Because he had trouble
with his wife. We saw him in California and he had one son that despised him and
in order to keep the good name in the family he gave into the boy and he left
the boy here. He went to California. But what happened to him? Oh several time.
Now this Rabbi here. Oh yeah getting a Rabbi. For years they asked him about his
wife. This was the first Rabbi ever told us we were hiring him, not his wife.
Interviewer: Rabbi Berman you mean?
Polster: Yes. Nice wife. To this day she hasn’t shamed him or did anything
to make him ashamed of himself. She has a profession of some kind, I don’t
know, a professional nurse. But she had a family. He told us that we’re paying
him enough that we can keep her and him and raise his children in the family.
Interviewer: In the past they hardly had anything to pay the Rabbi when he
first started is that right?
Polster: Oh well I used to go out and my father use to be a collector and
when I was 6, 7, 8 years old and on Sundays he used to go out with his book and
get a quarter here and a half dollar there and he’d come back and maybe have
ten dollars for the Rabbi. See?
Interviewer: Was that enough for a Rabbi with a family to live on?
Polster: I don’t know exactly. But it didn’t take much don’t forget.
Don’t forget I think eggs in 1910 were a dime a dozen. They had bread two
loaves for a nickel, so that gives you an idea.
Interviewer: So they could survive on that?
Polster: Yes. We had no place to go spend our money. We had no transportation
to speak of. The early years on a Sunday my mother could get there with her
breakfast and her lunch. She sometimes would fry some meat or some kind and we
would take it for a picnic, twice a year maybe. We had an organization in town,
lodges, in those days the lodges took care of the social events of the, every
year the lodge had a big ball and all through the war. Every night at the bar,
the bar was the main thing had beer…
Interviewer: That must have been popular.
Polster: Yes it was. We’d go up there and sit in a room with the rest of
the kids and mother and the fathers were drinking beer. That was their fun, but
Interviewer: When you were younger did you socialize mostly with Jewish
people or were there so few that there weren’t that many to.
Polster: In the young days the…on one side of the tracks and the
reformed element lives on the other side. If you want to call it that. We
considered ourselves number two. Reformed element was considered number one, our
group was considered number two and Agudas Achim and the rest of them whose
mothers and fathers sat together were considered number three. Agudas Achim was
considered the biggest congregation. They may have had seven or eight hundred
members to our two hundred. The Temple Israel was…And it had a large group
also. To read the minutes of our synagogue and those of the Temple Israel you
would see that Temple Israel has very few of the original German Jewish people.
Very few of them. People who have…They don’t know what their name is
because they adopted that name when they came here. Some of them were Russian
and thought this was the way to…And they took a name and changed it and in
the war against the Jews in Germany, they all changed their names. Today it
might be a few, there are some by the name of Gumble left, and there are some by
the name of Lazarus left, Loeb.
Interviewer: As far as Tifereth Israel goes that were mostly Hungarian
immigrants. Tifereth Israel, the original founders were mostly from Hungary,
Polster: They are, I’m not saying this to be proud or anything like that,
but people from Hungary were highly educated or…than the people from Russia.
Those days, now I know that my father when he came here, the first thing he
wanted to do was learn English. Not Henry, he knew Jewish he could read Hebrew
which is understandable…Hebrew is a tongue and Jewish is a religion.
Jewish people can’t talk Jewish.
Polster: If you travel through the world like we did when we went to South
America, we couldn’t talk English we could talk Spanish or Portuguese. We
found out that everybody could talk Jewish and she could talk Jewish very good.
She…. up in her home and family and they spoke Jewish and not Hebrew,
therefore she was a very good Jewish student…see because now I.
Interviewer: Did they teach you Hebrew in Sunday School?
Interviewer: They didn’t?
Polster: Oh yes. Yes. Oh not translated, just to read.
Interviewer: Just learn the prayers if you didn’t really know what they
Polster: That’s right. That’s right yeah. So we didn’t, we couldn’t
our parents never pushed us on Hebrew. Now, my granddaughters…you
know Susan? Cass? Alright. My granddaughter is…to get her doctorate degree,
very good student, born in Columbus, went to school, had a teacher then by the
name of Saul Wax.
Interviewer: I remember Saul Wax.
Polster: Saul Wax was here and he started I guess, I think he’s the one
talking about Hebrew and they went through school and Susan…Jonas
is the oldest and Bonnie and Cass…you know her? They all three must have
talked Hebrew. By the way, we have a dear friend near…. Israel. He came here
one year, we met him here and the second time he came I said to him Dr. Riskin,
my granddaughter would like to talk to you. I told her to talk to you in Hebrew
because he doesn’t understand English.
Polster: So she went on and had a long conversation with him in Hebrew.
Interviewer: I bet he was delighted.
Polster: So she says to him. Did I do it pretty good? He was surprised that
an American girl like that.
Interviewer: Could speak it?
Polster: Yes. That’s right. So they get together and they never know Hebrew
they know the translation of it, they can try to talk it, they can speak it and
for several years we had trouble for the Passover, Passover Seder…
Interviewer: We go through that in our family too.
Polster: So what happened? The three girls got together and produced their
own. They took the best of the crop and made it a Passover Seder.
Interviewer: That’s great.
Polster: Well I don’t know who copies after it. If not the seminary of the
theological people I don’t know who it was got wind of it and…and made a
book out of it.
Interviewer: That’s terrific, you must be very proud of them.
Polster: Yeah, well they started it you see. It’s been…ten years now
for the Seder, I don’t know.
Interviewer: Do you remember how the holidays were celebrated when the Temple
was young? Did the people come to the Temple to celebrate Passover and the
holidays? Did you go to Temple to celebrate Passover? Did you stay home to do
Polster: For years, we celebrated two days, holidays, Israel today they
celebrate two days on Yom Kipper or Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kipper’s is a one-day;
all the other holidays are two days here. It’s still that way. In our Family
my father had a big family, had to make a living. All of them from that section
had big families. So they, the father…the first day he never worked on the
first day of holiday. The second of holiday he’d go downtown…because he
said… and eat. Two days and sometimes they have services and sometimes they
Interviewer: In the early days the synagogue must have been just like a
family, not only because there were so many Polsters, but because it wasn’t
Polster: That’s right…
Interviewer: There have been cantors, how long before the synagogue had a
Polster: The synagogue had a…the man who did the slaughtering, the
synagogue paid part of his salary and he was our cantor for years and he would
slaughter the animals and the butcher would pay him for that. Then when they
finally had to break it up…he would do the killing and he would come to
your house and normally it was about two cents or three cents to kill a chicken,
slaughter a chicken for you. Came the winter months, he had a big hall because
most of the Jewish people…We’d go out in the country with this farmer
there and he’s fattening up some chickens, some geese. We’d bring about 8 or
10 geese and he’d kill them all at one time and we’d wait until it got cold
before that happened. As soon as it got cold enough we would hang them on our
back porch to freeze. Once they froze they stayed froze all winter. That was our…
Interviewer: that was how you could eat in a cold winter.
Polster: We had plenty of geese to eat.
Interviewer: But that was your first cantor, when did you have a full time
Polster: Yeah we had other duties…
Interviewer: Was it before WWII or before?
Polster: After the second.
Interviewer: Was there a problem choosing the cantor?
Polster: Now today we have a cantor, we still got his name and we call him
cantor. If you give him the right name would say he would be in the department
of education. Now this cantor they have now, he’s on a leave of absence for a
year while his wife was doing her internship or something and he said he would
come back to Columbus when his time is up. The Rabbi then goes on sabbatical for
Interviewer: How did they choose the cantor or the Rabbi, does the board
Polster: They advertised.
Interviewer: Just because somebody showed up didn’t mean you hired them
Polster: We’d advertise in the paper, the Jewish paper Chicago, Cleveland,
and New York. We’d get a lot of answers. A lot of people would come to
Interviewer: How would you pick them, how would you decide who among the
applicants would get the job?
Polster: Well it’d depend on the voice first…and now they won’t take
anybody unless they have gone to cantorial school.
Interviewer: But in the early years if you sang well and you knew something
about Jewish education, you hired them.
Polster: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right…filled in for the Rabbi
never. Today the cantor fills in for the Rabbi. Course we have this cantor now,
he was here last week. He comes in whenever necessary. He performs while Rabbi
Berman is on vacation now.
Interviewer: Do you ever remember a cantor who you thought couldn’t sing at
Polster: Who couldn’t sing? The worse we ever had we couldn’t
Interviewer: He had an accent?
Polster: He was from a different. I used the words that the members…From
Gakken. Gakken is a different area. There are so many areas where Jewish people
live. Now Yemen, who ever heard of Yemen before, I never heard of Yemen until
maybe ten years ago. Now my granddaughter is married to a boy from Yemen. He
lived in Israel became part of Israel. There are so many territories that had
their own click.
Interviewer: And their own accent.
Polster: Yeah, that’s right just like here in the south they have different
expressions we have here. It’s funny to hear a man talk “Y’all…”
that’s their way.
Interviewer: You had a cantor but you couldn’t understand him, how long did
Polster: I don’t know, he was a teacher. They had to have somebody. He was
a teacher and he was better than nothing. When he would sing the word…Would
come out all backwards but we got used to it afterwards. I don’t’ know how
long he lasted. Then we had our favorite cantor was a…also…Tinhorn was
with us for years. He would pray and couldn’t get a lecture and if he did I
couldn’t understand it because he talked in Yiddish and we went to Hebrew
school five days a week in the afternoon, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. something like that.
This Reverend Tinhorn he was very popular with us. He was with us a good many
years and then we got Rabbi Zelizer and he had with cantors.
Interviewer: Rabbi Zelizer had problems with cantors?
Polster: He couldn’t get along with them. He was modern. Rabbi Zelizer came
here as his first job, I think. He was a greenhorn himself as far as Rabbis were
concerned. And he was 23 years old. We worked with him, put up with him. But he
couldn’t get the cantors to listen to him. They always wanted to do something
that they knew how better. He was in a modern school he wanted modern. So, he
had trouble with them.
Interviewer: I don’t remember High Holidays where the Rabbi would be going
on and on and the cantor would interrupt him and then he would interrupt the
cantor and it always seemed like a war up on the pulpit.
Polster: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right. You’ve been here in Columbus
all your life, haven’t you? You went to Tifereth Israel? Your mother and
father? That’s right. The difference between the two of them is…Rabbi
Zelizer is an American Citizen. He wasn’t born as an American but he came here
as a child. He adapted to the Americans right away and he wanted to. He wanted
the cantor to do like he said. Not yesterday, tomorrow. He was a man of
tomorrow, Rabbi Zelizer was. He is still a man of tomorrow. He is sick now. So,
but in Florida Rabbi Zelizer started new congregations. Tomorrow. But he was one
of those who could see ahead. But the trouble he had with the cantor was long as
he was… it wasn’t so bad but as soon as he quit…but we use to patronize
the Jewish slaughterhouse on Washington Ave near Main. All our congregations
went together and they hired these men…and we’d take our chicken there
and they’d kill them for us…And they went modern and they had this funnel
and the…And they’d cut the chicken’s throat and in this funnel the
chicken couldn’t run around…they’d come to the conclusion there was a
better way to do it and more in depth with keeping with Jewish law that they
shouldn’t suffer. That’s gone by the wayside now.
Interviewer: Did the synagogues have rivalries? You know the people from
Agudas Achim and the people from Temple Israel talk to the people from Tifereth
Polster: I wouldn’t say rivalry. They…a few of them not many…
those that were Reform already thought that we were too Jewish and we already
gave up our Judaism. We even went to Orthodox we didn’t want to sit with our…
so we drove ourselves.
Interviewer: How long did it take before that changed? Until people began to
socialize more amongst each other?
Polster: I will tell you something. Possibly 1955 there was a change going
on, unknown. I knew it at that time…the temple and we had members whose
children belonged to Agudas Achim group. To get an idea Rabbi Folkman when he
first came to Columbus, he and I became friends because we used to bury some of
their people and so forth. The shul belonged to them but they belonged to our
shul, we had lost our cemetery but we had a…and some small town out in the
country I forget where it was and they had this farmer is what lived on the farm
and she died. So…there was Rabbi Folkman…this place dedicated a
cemetery and I don’t know how I come into it I guess I was on the committee.
We’re in the car I forget there are several of us, that’s how you dedicate a
cemetery, but we didn’t know that. He was fresh out of school, but Rabbi
Folkman. He was very friendly, known him for years, and Rabbi Rubenstein, he was
cold, he was cold. But when we buried somebody, we’d take him and he’d
conduct service and he’d conduct it his way but our Rabbi had to see it was
conducted right. What do you think who was right our Rabbi never had to do any
work on that date?
Interviewer: He would just show up for the funeral?
Polster: That’s right. That’s right. Rabbi Rubenstein, he was a little
bit of ahead. Too far gone for us. We thought he was too far gone for us. He was
ahead of us on these things. So he…and Rabbi Stavsky never would. Our
cemetery wasn’t kosher. He would for years. He would go to a house. Yeah
and I think he goes to our temple now but for years he never come to temple.
Interviewer: If Rabbi Zelizer went to a funeral that Rabbi Rubenstein was
conducting and he didn’t approve of the way he did it, what would he do?
Polster: He approved of it the way he had taught before he came.
Interviewer: But he just sat here and watched it.
Polster: That’s right. That’s right. He would participate in
closing the grade. The phrases, at the burial there are several ways they can
handle it. They can handle the undertaker takes the body and puts it on top of
the grave on this contraption…then you come to service you deliver the body…
The pallbearers would pick up the body…so to satisfy everybody we always
went to where the pallbearers carried the body to except inclimate weather. Didn’t
mean anything, why should we argue with something that doesn’t mean anything?
So…people say we had an election of officers when the board of trustees
had 20-25 people and they get the person they wanted for president or officers.
The general public doesn’t stand a chance if they want somebody then they go
to them and tell them. Instead of giving a man who knows nothing about the
synagogue or nothing about any business of the synagogue. You got to know
something about the synagogue before hand.
Interviewer: You think that is good?
Polster: Oh yes. They all have a chance to go to the committee. They do.
Right now they have a young man on the committee who was sent that way. He was
pointed out to the committee and investigated and found they overlooked him. He’s
a vice president today and in four years he will be president. He qualified for
it. That’s Leslie Berger. He’s qualified for it. They don’t turn anybody
down. But you go and say give me John Smith and John Smith hasn’t been to
temple in ten years what does he know about temple. Popular man? So I
guess that’s the end of this.
Interviewer: Thank you.
* * *
(End of interview)