"We are so proud that the trustees of Temple Israel wanted to continue their longtime support of this and surrounding communities through our foundation," said ANC President Robin Myers of the gift, which is to be endowed for scholarships earmarked for students from Blytheville and Osceola, and Kennett, Hayti and Caruthersville, Mo.
After 78 years, the Temple Israel congregation closed its doors in November 2003. Before liquidating its assets, the trustees of the synagogue donated several of its belongings to other Jewish synagogues including the three Torahs it housed -- one of which dated back to a Jewish synagogue in Germany in 1937. Additionally, the beautiful stained glass windows at Temple Israel were donated earlier to the new Beth Sholom Synagogue constructed in 2000 in Memphis, Tenn.
Leon Hellman, former member of Temple Israel, and his friend, Dr. Joel Turetzky, both of Memphis, were present for the announcement.
Hellman addressed the board and noted how the day was both a day of joy and a day of sadness. He recalled the thriving days of the Temple Israel congregation and how it was a congregation of true friendship.
While its closing is sad, Hellman noted that the gift to the ANC Foundation was a way that the trustees of Temple Israel could perpetuate the synagogue's name and the support that it made to the communities in which the members of its congregation lived.
Hellman and Turetzky are both currently members of Beth Sholom in Memphis and can still enjoy a bit of Temple Israel's memory through the gifts it donated to their synagogue.
"Though Temple Israel Synagogue may no longer be in Blytheville, this gift will allow it to live on through our students. This gift will forever reflect the generous and helpful nature that is indicative of the people of Temple Israel," said John Mayes, ANC Foundation governor.
The Temple Israel Scholarship marks the largest cash endowed scholarship received by the ANC Foundation.
Leon Hellman of Memphis, Tenn., (far right), trustee of Temple Israel of Blytheville, presents a check for $120,000 to ANC Foundation Chairperson Sandra Kennett and Past Chairperson John Mayes, for the establishment of the Temple Israel Scholarship at Arkansas Northeastern College. (photo provided)