I am interviewing Louis R. Goldfarb today who is member of the Agudas Achim
Congregation on May 18, 1993. This interview is for the Columbus Jewish
Historical Society Oral History Project.

Interviewer:  Good afternoon Mr. Goldfarb.

Goldfarb:  The history of Agudas Achim Congregation from the year of
1881 through July the 15th, 1951. The history of any organization
just as a life story of an individual has its own personality, character,
growth., decline and rebirth. In short, the whole gamut of development. Agudas
Achim Congregation has had a varied and interesting history. From its inception
in the early 80s to the present, it has proven to be not only the oldest
traditional synagogue in Columbus but also the largest and most prominent. The
founding fathers were Eastern European Jews. They left the Old World in search
of a religious freedom and an opportunity. They found what they sought in
Columbus capital as a State of Ohio. The first Jew arrived in Columbus in 1838
and in succeeding years their number increased. In 1881 a minyan of
traditional services, ten people are required by Jewish Law to conduct public
worship, was held in a home of a Mr. Friedenberg on East Cherry Street, between
Ninth and Washington Avenue. With the addition of the new immigrants the ranks
of this Orthodox group expanded and in this fashion the nucleus of the Agudas
Achim, literally circle of brothers, Congregation was formed. They moved to a
new location on South Fifth Street near Donaldson Street. After a short stay
there, they moved in succession to South Fourth Street, near Mound, and then to
a large home on Donaldson Street near Seventh. Finally, in 1895 they purchased a
building of their own at 464 South Fifth Street, which they occupied until they
established themselves in the Washington and Donaldson site in the fall of 1907.
Mr. Moshe Stone served as the President of the latter location.

The aim of the Agudas Achim Congregation as stated in the Constitution dated
November 1891 was to magnify the Law and to worship God in an Orthodox way after
the custom of the Ashkanaz. Very little accurate information is available of the
formative period of the Congregation, the years between 1880 and 1905. But it’s
fairly certain that the following people were actively affiliated with the
Agudas Achim:Max Glick, Charles Skilken, Hersh and Yehuda Margolies, the
Goldstein, Jacob Silverstein, families Philip and Ben Office, Jacob
Schottenstein, Abraham Goldberg, R. Wasserman, Isaac Gilberg, Simsom Josephson,
Isiah Wax, Abe Martlin, Benjamin Rapenport, Silverman Family, and Finkelstein,
Rabinowitz, Shofenovsky, Sam Weiner, Kaufman Family, Carlstein, Wolman Family,
E. Gordon, M. Wise, the Newpuff Family, Nusbaum, Markowitz, and M. Thall,
Tuckerman, I. Goldsmith, Bernstein, Moshe Stone, Milder, Rosenthal, Sam
Freidlander, Sholam Kramer, Levison, I. Topper, Louis Mellman, the Levy Family,
M. Pass, the Shulman Family, Silberstein, Papier, Sholam Freidman, Nachem
Skuller, the Shmurtz Family, the Vein brothers, Charles Rosenbaum, Jay M.
Schottenstein, and H. B. Schottenstein, Glock, and Shapiro.

For an Orthodox community to exist the following institutions are necessary:
a House of Worship, a Cemetery, a Mikvah, and a Spiritual Leader to care for the
needs of the group. The first minyan as mentioned previous was held in 1881. The
cemetery on Alum Creek Drive, opposite the Franklin County TB Hospital, referred
to as the Old Cemetery was established in 1895. Before that time Hebrews were
buried on East Livingston Avenue were the Livingston Avenue Park is located
today, on the south side of Harrisburg Pike and other burial plots was located
on Mount Calvary Road, south of West Mound Street. Columbus Jews were also
interred in the cemetery at Zanesville. The newest Agudas Achim burial ground
located on Refugee Road was dedicated in 1937 and was put into use at that time.
Mr. Abraham Goldberg was instrumental in the setting up the old and new
cemetery. He also served as the Chairman Gabby of the Chevra Kaddisha, since
that society was established with his passing in 1940. His son Harry took over
the important work of this office. The first Mikvah in Columbus was
established in 1895 and was housed in a basement of a synagogue, at 464 South
Fifth Street. Previous to that, Columbusites had to go to Circleville for the
use of the Mikvah. The first Spiritual Leader of the Agudas Achim
Congregation was Reverend Kalman London who replied to an advertisement in the
Yiddish Press for the rabbinical position open in Columbus. He was elected and
given a salary of three dollars per week. This was in 1881. He served the
Congregation until 1894. His daughter, Miss Sarah Wiener is a resident of
Columbus and a member of our Congregation. In 1896 the Congregation’s
membership dues was twelve and one-half cents per week. Rabbis’ Artfield,
Solomon, Lewy, Joseph Rapenport, and Saul Silver served during the years of 1895
and 1907. In 1907 Rabbi I. Wiernikowsky became the Spiritual Leader of the new
building at Washington and Donaldson Street. Mr. Sam Freidlander served as
President. The late Mr. I.B. Jasonovsky was Building Chairman, Louis Laken.
Walter Katz, and Louis Mellman were members of the committee. In addition the
following since departed also served on the building committee: Ephram Gordon,
Abraham Goldberg, Sam Freidlander, Ingus Wolman, Fred Silberstein, Simon
Josephson, Mendal Pass, Jacob Schottenstein, J.M. Schottenstein, Charles R.
Rosenbaum, Nochem Skuller, Sholam Freidman, Kalman Tuckerman, Moshe and Velvel

With the opening of the synagogue at Washington and Donaldson, an era of
expansion for the Agudas Achim took place, from 1890 until 1905. Due to the
persecution Jews left Europe and came to America. Columbus had its share of
immigrants. The old House of Worship on South Fifth could not take care of the
special needs. Larger and more spacious quarters were needed, hence, the new
building. From 1905 until the early 1920s, Jewish immigrants arrived in Columbus
in great numbers. The majority of them became affiliated with the Agudas Achim
Congregation. By 1920, the membership numbered close to four hundred families.
The Congregation became one of the most active in the Midwest. The building was
regarded as one of the finest in the land. Visitors came from great distance to
behold its beauty. It was erected at approximate cost of forty three thousand
dollars. In order to protect and beautify the Synagogue, Mr. Sholam Freidman
presented the Congregation with a lot just north of the building, with the
stipulation that nothing be built on the lot.

During the years of growth of the Congregation, the community at large was
greatly influenced by the leadership of the Agudas Achim. Societies and
organizations owe their existence to the members of the active Synagogue. The
Agudas Achim Sisterhood was organized in the late 1890s, with Mrs. Abraham
Goldberg serving as the first President. During the years it has grown to the
most powerful arm of the Congregation. Mrs. Goldberg is today witnessing the
fruit of her labors. In 1913, Rabbi Morris N. Taxon, of blessed memory, was
elected Spiritual Leader of the Congregation. He served with distinction until
1918 and was replaced by Rabbi Solomon Neches led the Synagogue until 1922.
Rabbi I. Wiernikowsky was his full name. Returned to the Congregation in 1923
and did a great deal to reactivate the Synagogue program. The late Friday
evening forms were inaugurated during this regime. He served the Congregation
until 1931. Rabbi Mordechai Hirschprung was then selected to guide the
Congregation. He served from 1932 until 1948.

Presently the Congregation is being led by Rabbi Samuel W. Rubenstein. Who
came to Columbus in 1949. It was through his entire efforts that inspiration at
our new building at Broad and Roosevelt has becoming a reality. Through the
years Agudas Achim Congregation has maintained a progressive Religious School
meeting on Sundays. In 1942 Mr. Harry Gilbert, son the late Isaac Gilbert, one
of the pioneers of the Agudas Achim, bought a building at 1021 Bryden Road and
presented the Congregation the use of its facilities for the Sunday School and
Synagogue Office. The same year the Agudas Achim Preschool was established under
the supervision of Mrs. A.R. Schwartz. An excellent Junior Congregation meeting
on Saturday morning conducts its own regular Shabbas service. Harry Maybrook,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, had led this group for more than twenty-five
years. Recently a Bar Mitzvah Club was organized. This group meets every Sunday
morning at the school for a minyan and breakfast. Mr.

Kalmom Taxon, son of the late Rabbi Morris N. Taxton, helped establish this
organization. A Youth Group was established by the late Mrs. Grace Swissman, has
been functioning for the past two years. The present Columbus Hebrew School was
an outgrowth of the first Hebrew School in the city. Which was maintained by
Agudas Achim Congregation. Leading members of the Congregation was as the late
A. Goldberg, Nathan Danzinger, Hersh Kobacker, Work Walhaim, and Isaac Nutis. As
well as the following men still actively identified with the Synagogue. Were
among the leading supporters of the Hebrew School: Harry Beckman, Rubin Wolman,
Louis Mellman, Leon Seff, Jacob Yenkin, Arthur Goldberg, David Schwartz, Abe
Seff, Louis Lakin, and Jacob Krakowitz. Other active members of the Congregation
such as Dr. Max P. Ziskin, Dr. Abe Kanter, Dr. W. Abrahamson, Frank Nutis, Abe
Wolman, Benjamin Greenberg, Sam Luper, and Abe Gertner are still serving and
guiding the destinies of the school. Dr. Abe H. Kanter is now serving as

From 1912 until 1934, Reverend Simon Silverman served as Cantor, Shachet, and
Mohel. Reverend P.H. Gelman who was elected in 1936 serves at the present time
in the same capacity. During the years that the Synagogue on Washington and
Donaldson was operated the following men served as President. Please note that
several of these men served more than on term of office. I.B. Jashenosky, Sam
Freidlander, Isaac Topper, Abraham Goldberg, Jacob Schottenstein, Joseph
Zilberman, Nathan Finkelstein, Morris Levison, Jake Krakowitz, Louis Laken,
Walter Katz, Burt Wolman, Morris Gertner, Sam Levy, Joseph L. Schwartz, Abe A.
Wolman, who has faithfully lead the Congregation since 1945. Through the years
the Congregation has had a benefit of local devotion and dedication of many
individual. And is a source of pride to the active leadership to know that many
of these same persons, as well as their children and now their children’s
children, are here still in a position of trust and importance in the growth and
development of Agudas Achim. The office of Treasurer of the Synagogue is always
meant a special sacrifice to the man who held it. For between the holidays when
the finances of Congregation was uncertain the Treasurer was often obliged to
advance personal funds for the continued operation of a Synagogue. Such men as
Nathan Danzinger, who incidentally was a first member to leave an endowment fund
for the Synagogue and the Hebrew School. Among the men who served the Synagogue
as Secretary for many years was such persons as Ephraim Gordon, I.D. Levy, David
Peiros, Burt Wolman, Harry Schwartz, Sam Topolosky, Ted Simpson, Morris
Horowitz, still a member of the present board, serves as Secretary for many
years and in addition served as a member of a Seat Committee for over thirty
years. Knowing exact location and proper occupant of every seat and pew in the
Synagogue. Norman Mathless is Secretary today. From the ranks of the
Congregation have come the leaders in every worthwhile communal endeavor. No
cause, no drive, no venture of a philanthropic educational or cultured nature
was every undertaken or successfully concluded in a Jewish community in Columbus
without its quota of heartened and devoted Agudas Achim members who gave their
energy, their time, their funds to the advancement of the principles of Judaism.
And who through their efforts ensured the establishment and continuance of the
organization and institution which have preserved, matured, and fostered these
ideals. Today July the 15th, 1951, we consecrate a cornerstone of our
new building at Broad and Roosevelt. We call apass with a genuine sense of pride
and thankfulness. We look forward to the future with the renewed hope that our
new House of Worship we will be able to effectively carry out the program. The
founding fathers of our Congregation set forth to magnify the Law and worship
God in an Orthodox fashion.

At this time a word of thanks and commendation is due to Mr. Louis Berliner,
a devoted worker and a member of our Congregation for excellent job he did in
compiling the history of the Congregation. Many hours, days and weeks were spent
in research, interviews and writing in order to make this history a reality. For
all of this we are extremely grateful to Mr. Berliner.

We achievement of merit brings with it an equal amount of challenge. We of
the Agudas Achim face one of the most stimulating periods in the long and
glorious history of our Congregation. For many years there has been talk of
building a new Synagogue structure in a more suitable location. Many of the men
and women who worked tirelesslyand diligently are no longer with us to witness
the fulfillment of this dream. The Agudas Achim Synagogue in Bexley is all but a
reality. Today, Sunday July the 15th, 1951 we set the cornerstone. In
another ten weeks, please God, we plan to occupy the building. At this important
crossroad in the life of our Congregation, it is important to ask ourself a
pivotal question: Why was it necessary to build a new house of worship? Why
spend all the time, effort and money on a new sanctuary? The answer is fairly
obvious. With population changes effecting neighborhoods the locale of the old
Synagogue on Washington Avenue and Donaldson Street has become outmoded. Most of
our people were moving on the eastern portion of Columbus. To Bexley, Eastmoore
and points east. If we as a Congregation to serve our membership was even
necessary to move closer to the center of Jewish population. In addition, the
facilities of the old Synagogue were not efficient to take care for the needs of
the modern Congregation. To put money in the old building would not have been a
wise policy. In erecting a new Sanctuary, we were following a time proven Jewish
custom. That of building for the future. Our parents took pain to set up the
proper institutions and Synagogues for our use. It was our obligation to
dedicate ourselves to the future and hence we thought it best to construct a new
building on a site selected at the Broad Street and Roosevelt Avenue. In the
spacious new building amidst the pleasant Bexley surroundings we should surely
feel is a good chance of implanting a love for Judaism in the hearts of our
young people. To dedicate this task of building for the future is a most trying
one. To many of us feel that we would with the erection of the new Synagogue a
job is done. We can rest on our laurels. We can cease work and all will be well.
The actual work in conjunction with the building of the new House of Worship has
exhausted many of us and we do not have the will to desire to continue. At this
time, it is important to be reminded of the original purpose which we
established since the new Synagogue. That of making traditional Judaism
meaningful so ourselves as well as to our children. This school has not been
reached; our task is as yet not finished. We have not fulfilled our obligations
to the past a s well as to the future. We must dedicate ourselves to the same
resolve that made our Synagogue a reality. We must employ the same devotion of
the planning of a sound program for our Congregation. On that, if properly
carried out, will attract our youth. Unless the wholehearted cooperation are our
membership is achieved we have toiled in vain. Every man, woman and child has
consecrate themselves unto the service of the Congregation. The call goes out as
it did in the days of the Maccabees. Who hath chosen unto the Lord come
to me
. In the words of Mathias, aged warrior of Jewish liberty and freedom.
I call upon the members of Agudas Achim Congregation to stand by the Synagogue
this most trying hour. May God inspire you to see the challenge of the hour
bring. May He grant you the courage to face it unafraid, may He give you the
will to meet it successfully. Samuel W. Rubenstein, Rabbi.

The consecration of the cornerstone of Agudas Achim Synagogue, July 15th,
1951, Thomas 5711. The following program constitutes the following: The honored
guest was Mrs. A. Goldberg, past President of the Sisterhood: Rabbi Julius Baker
of Lancaster, Ohio; Harry Beckman, President of Ahavas Shalom Congregation; Max
Barash Sexton, Agudas Achim Congregation; Louis Berliner, Chairman of Publicity;
Mrs. M.H. Gertner and Max Glick, Charter members; Arthur Goldberg, Planning
Committee; Daniel J. Harrison, Director of the Columbus Hebrew School; Dr. A.H.
Kanter, President of the Columbus Hebrew School; Rabbi Harry Kaplan, Director of
the Hillel Foundation; John Kordwich, Public Relation Director Capital
University; Ralph Lazarus, President United Jewish Fund of Columbus; Sam Levy,
past President of Agudas Achim Congregation; Mrs. M.M. Levison and A.J. Mellman;
Assistant Cantor Agudas Achim Congregation; Martin J. Polster, President of
Tifereth Israel Congregation; Louis Rubin, Planning Committee; Mrs. Samuel W.
Rubinstein, Director of Agudas Achim Sunday School; Mrs. A.R. Schwartz, Director
of the Columbus Self-Development School; David Schwartz and Edward Shlechinger,
President of the Jewish Center; Mrs. Jacob Schottenstein and Charles Skilkin,
Charter members; Joe Swartz, President of Beth Jacob Congregation; Leonard J.
Stern, President of Temple Israel; and Mrs. Morris J. Taxon. Now the committees
that sat at that particular time to establish the new congregation is as
followings: the Building Fund was Harry Gilbert, Chairman,

Jacob Krackowitz, co-Chairman, with Sam Shlonsky and Joseph L. Schwartz. The
new building construction was Joseph L. Schwartz, Chairman, Max Schottenstein
and Harry Maybrook, co-Chairmen. The Furnishing Committee was Louis R. Goldfarb,
Chairman, co-Chairman Ben Toplen, Mrs. Harry Maybrook, Mrs. Abe Mellman and Mrs.
Abe A. Wolman. Reception Committee was Dave Levison, Chairman, Henry Fink, Ted
Finkelstein, Abe Silverman, and the entire board. The Refreshment Committee
consisted of Mrs. Jack Davis, Chairman, Mrs. Max Stein, co-Chairman, and the
entire Sisterhood board.

The program for the consecration of the cornerstone of the Agudas Achim
Synagogue that was located at Broad and Roosevelt is as following: Invocation by
Dr. Marvin Fox; the National Anthem, led by Mrs. Joseph L. Schwartz; the
Welcome, Abe A. Wolman, President of Agudas Achim Congregation; Remarks, Harry
Gilbert, he was a Financial Chairman of the Building Committee, also Remarks by
Harry Maybrook, Chairman of the Board of Trustees; Remarks by Harry Schwartz,
who was Chairman of the Day; Greetings by Sydney L. Katz, Chairman of
Arrangements, George D. Naiy, Lieutenant Governor, State of Ohio, James A.
Rhodes, Mayor City of Columbus, William Schneider, was the Mayor of the City of
Bexley. Introduction of guests was made by Harry Schwartz. Local selections by
our Cantor P.H. Gelman. Greetings; Rabbi Leipold Greenwald of Beth Jacob
Congregation, Joseph L. Schwartz, Chairman of the Building Committee, Mrs. Harry
Maybrook, President of [tape cuts off]…

…Goldberg, Chairman of the Chevra Kaddisha, Dr. W. Emory Hartman, Bexley
Methodist Church. Consecration of the cornerstone: Harry and Max Silberstein.
The participants was Walter Katz, Abe Krakoff, Jacob Krakoff, Jacob Krakowitz,
Louis Lakin, Louis Mellman, and Jacob Yenkin. The Scriptural Reading was done by
Rabbi Nathan Zelizer of Congregation Tifereth Israel. Introduction, Max
Schottenstein, Vice-President of Agudas Achim Congregation. Consecration Address
was our Rabbi Samuel W. Rubinstein. Benediction Rabbi Jerome D. Folkman of
Temple Israel. And HaTikvah led by Cantor P.H. Gelman. This concluded the
ceremonies for the congregation of the cornerstone of our new Synagogue.

Now if you wish I can also…

At the time of the Congregation’s structure, new structure, the following
were the officers of the Congregation: Samuel W. Rubinstein, Rabbi; P.H. Gelman,
Cantor; Abe A. Wolman, President; Max Schottenstein, Vice-President; Abe Yenkin,
Treasurer;Norm Mathless, Secretary. The Board of Trustees consisted of the
following: Harry Maybrook was Chairman; Louis R. Goldfarb, Vice-Chairman; Oscar
Berman, Philip Bornstein, Henry Fink, Dr. Marvin Fox, Arthur Goldberg, Harry
Goldberg, William I. Goodman, S. Myran Gurevitz, Morris Horowitz, Dr. Max P.
Kantor, Dave Levison, A.P.Luper, Sam Luper, Norman Meizlish, Samuel Meizlish,
A.J. Mellman, Frank R. Nutis, Ira Rinkoff, Louis Rubin, Sam Sholonsky, Herman
Schottenstein, Irvin Schottenstein, Leon Schottenstein, Harry Schwartz, Saul
Shenk, Jack Shearer, Ben Silberstein, Abe Silverman, Ben Toppen, Roy Wolfe,
Nathan Zeff. The Honorary Trustees: Harry Gilbert, Ben Greenberg, Walter Katz,
Abe Krakoff , Jacob Krakoff, Louis Lakin, Louis Mellman, Joseph L. Schwartz and
Jacob Yenkin.

The Office of the Sisterhood: Mrs. Harry Maybrook, President; Mrs. Abe J.
Mellman, First Vice-President; Mrs. Morris M. Taxon, Second Vice-President; Mrs.
Nathan Zeff, Corresponding Secretary; Mrs. Abe I. Yenkin, Financial Secretary;
Mrs. Louis Grossman, Recording Secretary; and Mrs. Abe A. Wolman, Treasurer. The
Board Members of the Sisterhood consisted of: Mrs. Jay Barnett, Mrs. Oscar
Berman, Mrs. Joseph Bloch, Mrs. Samuel Brief, Mrs. Sanford Kohen, Mrs. Jack
Davis. Mrs. Jack Friedman, Mrs. Charles Friedman, Mrs. Dave Geiser, Mrs. Philip
Gelman, Mrs. Irving Gertner, Mrs. Harry Goldberg, Mrs. Abe Gordon, Mrs. Max
Kanter, Mrs. Harry Kay, Mrs. Jake Krackowitz, Mrs. Lawerance Lazere, Mrs. Norman
Mathless, Mrs. Frank Nutis, Mrs. Isaac Nutis, Mrs. Dave Reinkin, Mrs. William
Rosen, Mrs. Samuel W. Rubinstein, Mrs. Harry Rubin, Mrs. Joe Schecter, Mrs. Sam
Sholonsky, Mrs. Max Schottenstein, Mrs. A.R. Schwartz, Mrs. Joseph L. Schwartz,
and Mrs. Harry Shcwartz, Mrs. Ina Seigal, Mrs. Irvin Stein, Mrs. Joseph
Topolosky, Mrs. Harold Topolosky, Mrs. Samuel Goldkove.

The Chevra Kaddisha, which plays a very very important part in paying
the respect to our dead members is, was as following. In the men’s division:
Harry Goldberg was Chairman; M. Heinemann, Jacob Yenkin, A. Schulman, Louis
Melman, Morris Horowitz, Sam Levy, Louis Levine and Max Barash. This comprised
the men’sdivision. The women’s division was Mrs. A. Goldberg was Chairman.
Mrs. M. Kohn, Mrs. B. Tannenbuam, Mrs. B. Wiener, and Mrs. Max Barash.