Last week we told a bit about the life of Cantor Elias Zaludkowski. While living here in Pittsburgh, he not only served as Cantor, but literally became a part of the Beth Shalom family.
A couple weeks ago we were honored by a visit from the Avner family, who came from all around the country for a family reunion. The family’s progenitors include a few of the machers who helped to make Beth Shalom what it is today. While in Pittsburgh, the family visited the Beth Shalom Cemetery, and visited the synagogue as well. We were delighted to provide a tour of the building, a few photo ops including with the window dedicated by their family, and an overview by maven Barbara Oleinick of the other windows in the Faye Rubenstein Weiss Sanctuary. Of course, we had provided much Beth Shalom history in advance of their visit.
Marcia Avner, whose maternal grandfather was Cantor Zaludkowski and whose paternal grandfather was Maurice Louis Avner (a leader in the Zionist movement and also President of Beth Shalom from 1923-1936), organized their gathering and provided some insight into the family’s history. Maurice Avner and his wife (Sarah) Rose Goldstein Avner played a large role in the early days of Beth Shalom. The Avners and Zaludkowskis lived on Beacon Street. The youngest child of Maurice and Rose, Miriam (Mimi) Avner Strauss, died just this past winter, at the age of 99+. Your correspondent believes that David Avner, father of Maurice, had served as president of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, the Washington Place Synagogue as it was known in the day, now fondly called The Downtown Shul. Maurice delivered some words at the event at which that congregation burned their mortgage, which was noted in the same issue (January 28, 1921) of the Jewish Criterion which announced the birth of Miriam Avner on January 20.
As we mentioned last week about Cantor Zaludkowski, the Avners also are buried at Beth Shalom Cemetery, beneath a large Art Deco obelisk. Their progeny have gone on to productive lives, including one cousin who is helping to keep Cantor Zaludkowski’s music alive.
The roots of Beth Shalom spread wide and strong. We thank the Avner family very much for their visit.