Temple Anshe Sholom is a URJ affiliated Reform congregation located in Olympia Fields, Illinois, just 45 minutes south of the Chicago Loop. Founded over 60 years ago, we are committed to creating a traditional, yet dynamic and innovative environment for modern Jews.
Sixty-three years ago, on the evening of October 2, 1942, an organization meeting was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Gordon. It was at that meeting that it was decided to establish a liberal congregation in Chicago Heights, IL. This congregation was later called “Anshe Sholom” (Men of Peace). In November of 1942, the State of Illinois granted a charter to Temple Anshe Sholom.
In October of 1942, it was decided that the need for a Temple building was imminent. By September of 1944, the needed funds were raised and land for the new Temple was purchased at the corner of 15th Street and Scott Avenue in Chicago Heights and ground was broken on April 15, 1945. On June 2, 1946, the cornerstone for the Temple building was laid. This was an eventful occasion as well as a stepping-stone, since this was the first reform Temple to be built in the Chicago South Suburban area.
By March of 1951, the religious school had outgrown its facility in the temple building, with classes being held in the foyer, kitchen, dining area and choir loft. Ground was broken in the spring of 1951 for the addition of six classrooms, a rabbi’s study and the enlargement of the social hall and kitchen.
At the November 11, 1959 board meeting, the Board decided to build a new temple. The plan was for a new house of worship that would accommodate estimated 400-500 families. Many of the small group of the 35 charter members of TAS were present at this November 11th meeting to vote and offer suggestions, gleaned from their experiences during the previous seventeen years.
The TAS sisterhood had the foresight to take advantage of an opportunity to purchase the tract of land on Western Avenue in Olympia Fields, two blocks north of Lincoln highway. They showed great courage when they purchased 10 acres for the sum of $20,000.Percival Goodman of New York was selected by the Architectural/Building committee to design the new facility.
- Epstein and Sons of Chicago were selected as the architects and engineers to execute the plans. The final temple construction contracts were signed on Wednesday, January 9, 1963. Laying of the cornerstone took place on the new Temple grounds, Sunday, September 8, 1963. Significant records of the congregation to be preserved for generations to come were sealed in the cornerstone of the Temple with the fervent prayer that the building would have a strong, sturdy and spiritual foundation. The new Temple was formally dedicated during the Weekend of April 10-12, 1964
In June of 1968, a decision was made to further expand the religious school. This addition included six additional classrooms and a larger Youth lounge, as well as exhibit cases for the Temple’s museum.
In September of 1974, the congregation Beth Torah, formerly in the Beverly neighborhood became a part of Temple Anshe Sholom in an amalgamation of the two congregations. The name of the congregation was changed to Temple Anshe Sholom – a Beth Torah.
In 1998, the Temple undertook a major renovation project in which the sanctuary, social hall, and foyer were completely renovated. Although the façade of the building largely remained the same, the interior was modernized with a sanctuary in the round, comfortable seating and sophisticated sound system. The sanctuary is designed to engender congregational participation and closeness.
Although this history of Temple Anshe Sholom, focuses on the physical building and progress as a congregation, we cannot forget the countless men and women who donated their time, money and talents to make the congregation what it is today. We are grateful for the foresight of our charter members; for the energetic efforts of lay leaders, for the loyalty and diligence of our membership which rose to new heights through activities and accomplishments; and for the inspired spiritual leadership of our Rabbis and Cantors.
“Dayenu- thank you, oh Lord” for the past, for the never ending and for the continuous future of the life of Temple Anshe Sholom a Beth Torah.