Sandra Pellegrino, president of Temple Tifereth Israel for the past decade, expects close to 150 people to attend the synagogue’s 100th birthday celebration Saturday at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody.
Pellegrino said the temple began on Shirley Street in 1912. The congregation moved in to his current home on Veterans Road in 1963.
It’s an exciting time for the temple. The Chelsea Jewish Foundation has plans to build a new senior housing development on the property. The temple’s sanctuary will undergo extensive renovations. The offices and Hebrew School classrooms will move adjacent to the worship area.
In the 1970s Temple Tifereth had 400 families and more than 1,000 members of the congregation. Today here are approximately 90 families.
“About five or six years ago, there was a real chance that we might close the doors,” said Pellegrino. “It’s just that this building is so massive and the expenses to keep it going are high – our gas bill for one month was $1,900 at its peak, which is out of our range.”
Pellegrino is optimistic about the temple’s future. “I’m confident we can continue to exist as a thriving congregation, but it takes work and it takes people. Hopefully, with the new renovations, we can get some people to come back and become members. But I’m really thrilled about the new senior apartments and the renovations. We’re working with a wonderful group.”
Pellegrino said the temple holds a Minyan [a Jewish prayer service] and post-service Kiddushes and breakfasts on Saturdays and Sundays.
Joyce Blumenthal, Eileen Wickham, Burton Figler, and Rona Mael are assisting Pellegrino on the gala planning committee.
Blumenthal said that Pellegrino is the undisputed MVP at Temple Tifereth Israel.
“There are no words to describe everything that Sandy does for the betterment of our temple,” said Blumenthal. “She is the caretaker, the president, the housekeeper, the maintenance, the secretary, the treasurer, the caterer – we would not have a Temple Tifereth Israel without her.”