The community is invited to the Book Launch and Presentation by local Boston author, Michael Weingarten’s for his newest book, “Preservation, Intrigue & Property: Dissolving Boston’s Vilna Shul Congregation 1985-2001.” The Presentation will be followed by a book signing and a reception with light refreshments.
This enlightening event will be held December 2nd at 6:30 PM in The Boston Synagogue. The Boston Synagogue is conveniently located at 55 Martha Road, in the West End’s Charles River Park.
This book tells the story of how a dying synagogue congregation on Boston’s Beacon Hill -- the Vilner Congregation, which built and operated the Vilner (Vilna) Shul on Phillips Street -- filed what it thought would be an uncontested dissolution plan.
The petition instead triggered a reaction in which Jewish communal groups, local synagogues, preservationist interests, First Amendment religious rights, the Court system and Boston political/regulatory interests intersected with a real estate recession to create a legal maelstrom lasting over fifteen years -- from 1985-2000. It brings to life downtown neighborhood history.
Over the years there has been an accretion of urban legends about what happened. Here at long last is a book that separates fact from fiction. The book also uncovers the fascinating story about how a Torah scroll, originally donated by a group of women in Boston’s immigrant West End to their local Hebrew school, changed hands at least three times and was the subject of litigation and claims of theft.