Fact Friday 218 - Blumenthal and the Circuit-Riding Rabbi Project
As I've highlighted in the past, the Jewish community has had a hugely influential role in the development of Charlotte and the region since its earliest days. And as I write this piece, its Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
Together, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are known as the High Holidays in the Jewish faith. The High Holidays are the most important time of the year on the Jewish calendar, and for many North Carolina small town congregations during the mid 20th century, that meant a visit from the Circuit-Riding Rabbi Project.
Running from 1954 to 1979, the project was the idea of Charlotte businessman and philanthropist I.D. Blumenthal, who proposed it to the North Carolina Association of Jewish Men as a way to help meet the religious needs of the state’s rural Jewish communities by bringing traveling rabbis and Jewish educators to these small towns. From 1955 to 1959, the project even included a “Mobile Synagogue”, a bus specially retrofitted to serve as a chapel and classrooms for communities that lacked their own synagogues.
I love this because its a reminder that technology in and of itself is not the engine of innovation. Its passion and creativity.
To read previous Fact Fridays that highlight the impact of the Jewish Community in Charlotte, click here and here.
Until next week!
Email me at email@example.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
Information taken from:
UNC Charlotte Special Collections on Instagram - @unccspeccoll
Wikipedia - "Yom Kippur"
Duke University Center for Jewish Studies
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass