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Congregation Rodef Sholom to create archive after records discovery

The temple is partnering on the project with Youngstown State University’s Applied History program and the AmeriCorps Ohio History Service Corps.

YOUNGSTOWN — Congregation Rodef Sholom has partnered with Youngstown State University’s Applied History program and the AmeriCorps Ohio History Service Corps for the development of an institutional archive of record collections discovered by executive director Sarah Wilschek.

After assuming her position at the temple in 2019, Wilschek discovered boxes of institutional records and keepsakes, including meeting minutes, scrapbooks, letters, financial ledgers and more in a utility closet on the lower level of the temple at 1119 Elm St. After Wilschek investigated the materials, it was discovered that they told the 154-year-history of the congregation and of Youngstown’s Jewish history, a news release states. 

“The creation of a formal Congregation Rodef Sholom archive is not only an invaluable resource to our congregation, congregants and their distant families, it is also a resource documenting the impact our congregants and congregation have had on the Mahoning and Shenango valleys over the past 154 years,” Wilschek said in the release.

YSU graduate students in the Applied History program will assist in the first steps in a multistage process of developing the archive. Congregants are also volunteering in the initiative and learning how to manage and care for the archives.

“I am very excited about this collaboration between the YSU History program, AmeriCorps and Congregation Rodef Sholom. The hands-on experience is so valuable for the graduate students, and the expertise of the faculty and advisors is a huge benefit for organizing, preserving and making accessible over a century and a half of our records and artifacts,” Bethany Goldberg, a member of the Congregation Rodef Sholom Board of Trustees and a music historian, said in the release. 

“As we dream about and plan for the future of Rodef Sholom and the Jewish community in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys, the archive project will provide a better understanding and appreciation of our past and strengthen the foundation upon which we strive to grow and prosper,” Goldberg said.

The long-term goal of the initiative is to develop a research center along with the archives for visiting scholars and classes from local schools to learn about the history of the congregation and Judaism in the region.  

For more information, contact Wilschek at 330-744-5001 or SWilschek@congregationrodefsholom.org.