Jewish synagogue purchased and converted into Hindu Temple in Rhode Island.
A former conservative Jewish synagogue in Warwick, Rhode Island, has reportedly been acquired by the Rhode Island Hindu Temple Society (RIHTS). The synagogue, named Temple Am David, is being converted into a Hindu temple, and it will be the first Hindu temple in Rhode Island.
Temple Am David has been in receivership since November, and it is expected to be turned over to a new faith, who are its new owners. The temple’s temporary receiver, Theodore Orson, of Orson and Brusini Ltd, a Providence law firm, said RIHTS signed a purchase and sale agreement in June for $400,001, which was approved in July by Kent County Superior Court.
The World Harvest Worship Center had also placed a bid on the temple and wanted to pay more than the Hindu Temple Society by $50,000, but would only close by a mortgage and financing, which made their offer inferior.
The temple will reportedly be developed in stages. It has a long history, spanning over 100 years, and includes a sanctuary, school wing, social hall, gift shop, and a library.
RIHTS which acquired the temple is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization dating back to 2013, and it has the sole responsibility of operating and developing the temple beside having other roles in the community and in the promotion of the Hindu culture. A Hindu temple has been a priority for the group since 2013.
After the agreement was signed, there was a 20-day appeal period to allow for the sale of the items inside the temple. The items including Torahs, Hanukah lamps, menorah, and other items, were sold at a fixed price while others were auctioned off. But the remaining Torahs, which are described as “most holy” were not auctioned off. They were to be placed with a broker as it was not thought to be dignified to have them auctioned.
The synagogue had been experiencing financial constraints and had even bought out the contract of Rabbi Richard Perlman about a year and a half ago. He had been the rabbi and cantor at the temple for 15 years.
According to Temple Am David President, Beth Veltri, some people from the congregation chose to follow the rabbi, while other left for other temples. The congregation then became so small that they felt it was in the best interest to file for receivership.
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The loss of the synagogue has not been easy for the Jewish community. They have reached out to the Hindu Temple Society to allow them to share the space, and Veltri reports that they are still waiting for a response.
Olson says he is thrilled that the building will continue being used for its intended purpose for which it was created, and will not be razed for commercial purposes.