Gardiner & Randolph

Gardiner & Randolph are located across from each other along the Kennebec River, just south of Augusta. While neither town constructed a synagogue, they each had founded places of worship within their communities.

Gardiner Jewish Census

(estimated)

1900-1940

Gardiner

Tifereth Israel

Water Street

1909-?

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Tifereth Israel, 164 Water Street

Congregation of Tifereth Israel

Congregational Timeline

1910 – 1941

Congregation rented several spaces along Water Street, moving each time due to fire or because they had outgrown the space.

1941

Congregation moved to 164 Water Street using the upstairs for a synagogue. Membership was close to 14 families, and the synagogue was used only during high holidays.

1973

Synagogue merged with Temple Beth El in Augusta.

Charles Martel

“My beloved father, Charles Martel, was the pillar of the little Jewish community from the mid 1940’s until his death in 1990. The shul was located on the second floor in the same building as his business, First National Equipment Company. There was a separate entrance to the left of the storefront to climb to the second floor where the sanctuary was located. The storefront is now part of a bank. It is the next building up the street from the Gardiner Public Library. There is an alleyway between the two buildings that leads to the Gardiner Fire Station. During the services the adults, but not necessarily the children, found the blasting noises from the fire station to be annoying. 

“The synagogue had Orthodox seating. From the 1940’s until about 1970, the shul membership included about 14 families. . . Most of the families kept kosher and drove to Bangor or Portland for kosher meat and Passover food.

“The High Holidays were indeed unique. The Sisterhood had rummage sales to make enough money to buy a plane ticket for a rabbinical student from Yeshiva University. The rabbi and his wife always stayed in our home. My father, who dovened three times a day and was obviously very learned, conducted the services jointly with the visiting rabbi. 

“When boys had to be prepared for their Bar Mitzvahs, the parents had to get in touch with a rabbi in Lewiston or in Auburn who would travel to Gardiner. Jewish girls did not have Bas Mitzvahs when I was 13; rather, I was in a group confirmation class in Auburn. The Gardiner synagogue did not have a Hebrew school in the 40s and 50s. The second floor of 164 Water Street was the shul, but it was only used on High Holidays. The third floor was occasionally the venue for ‘Family Night.’ The Jewish families got together to play board games and do renditions of popular TV shows.

 

“For such a small city, Gardiner’s main street, Water Street, had a disproportionate amount of Jewish storeowners until about 1970. Then little by little, Jewish life dissolved in Gardiner. The synagogue was built six miles away in Augusta, and the few remaining families joined the more active community where there was a Hebrew school and eventually a full time rabbi. I believe that now there are only two remaining Jewish families in Gardiner.”

~Rosalyn Martel-Secor

Randolph

Ohaway Sholem

1904-1910

Randolph Jewish Census

(estimated)

2018 demolition of
25 Kinderhook Street,
original home of
Ohaway Sholem in 1919

Ohaway Shalom

Congregational Timeline

1904

The first synagogue was open in Randolph.

1940

Census shows 14 Jewish residents living in Randolph who by this time were traveling to Gardiner for services.

1910

Synagogue moved to Gardiner as most of the Jewish businesses of Randolph had moved across the river.

1919

Mention of Ohaway Shalom congregation in American Jewish Yearbook with the name of Ludwig Goldstein.