Temple Oheb Sholom Explosion – On this Day 1969

Temple Oheb Sholom

On Saturday night, May 24th 1969 someone detonated a small bomb behind the Temple Oheb Sholom on Perkiomen avenue in Reading. Windows were shattered all along the 200 block of South 13th Street, and the exact spot of detonation was quickly determined to be right behind the synagogue.

Temple Oheb Sholom
This is the front of the Temple Oheb Sholom behind which Saturday night’s blast occurred. The temple is on Perkiomen avenue near Chestnut.
Temple Oheb Sholom
2021 Google Street View

The bomb went off at the very back of the premises, right next to a classroom where children had just vacated 10 minutes prior. Luckily, no one was injured. Clearly a hate crime intended to cause a physical and emotional disturbance, it is unclear whether the perpetrator was ever caught.

City police comb the area between Temple Oheb Sholom and the residence of Mrs. Florence Guldin, 223 S. 13th Street, where Saturday night’s explosion was apparently detonated. A heavy odor of gunpowder was apparent at the scene and the gaping hole in the cement wall is indicative of the force of the explosion.

Temple Oheb Sholom
This interior view shows a classroom in the synagogue which is immediately behind the area where the explosion was evidently detonated. The room had not been used Saturday but the force of the blast spewed glass throughout the room and jarred tile from the ceiling – Eagle Photos

Temple Oheb Sholom History

Oheb Sholom was founded on May 1st, 1864 when some Berks County’s most prominent Jewish citizens, some from families dating back to colonization, made financial pledges to unite together and live according to the Holy principles of their religion. The name Oheb Sholom, meaning “he who loves peace”, was chosen a week later. For the first 20 years they did not have a permanent meeting place. Rooms and buildings were rented according to the amount space needed to fit their congregation.

In 1884, Immanuel Evangelical Church on the south side of Chestnut Street, between 6th and Pearl street vacated their church building. Oheb Sholom purchased the building and used it as their first permanent location until 1921, when they built the temple pictured above. Oheb Sholom relocated to Wyomissing on Warwick Dr. in 1998, where they have been located since.

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

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