Allan Fryman is of an age when he starts worrying about future generations and whether they will appreciate the people who came before.
A member of Beth Radom Congregation’s board of governors, Fryman, 68, has a plan to address that. He is hoping to create a small museum in the shul’s lower lobby to recall not only the synagogue’s storied history, but also the history of the Jews of Radom and their contributions to Jewish life.
Fryman, who serves as curator of the New Beth Radom Historical Society, has obtained an artist’s conception of what the museum would look like. He envisions retaining a current glass-walled showcase featuring various artifacts and memorabilia related to the synagogue, but adding a wall-sized mural with a map of Radom, Poland, along with diagrams of immigration patterns and information about the city’s Jewish population.
On the opposite wall, near the staircase, would be a big screen TV with a looping video presentation of Radom, along with more artifacts he is soliciting from Radom families, such as ledgers, photos, paperwork, letters, flyers and even landing papers.
“It would be like a time capsule with educational opportunities for the younger generation,” Fryman said.
The Beth Radom synagogue was founded by emigres from that Polish city who departed the old country well before the Holocaust, he said.
Prior to the Holocaust, Radom, located near the larger city of Lodz, was home to an estimated 25,000 Jews. Some were fortunate to leave prior to onset of the war, but those who remained were killed either in the ghetto established in the town or in the death camp at Treblinka.
Currently the spiritual home for about 350 families, the synagogue got its start on Beverley Street in the mid-1920s. Fryman’s immigrant grandfather, Isadore Green, was one of the founders.
Holocaust survivors who came to Toronto set up their own shul, but later merged with the established Beth Radom Congregation.
Like other immigrants, Green went to work at a young age as a silversmith/metalworker.
At the time, Radomers created various societies to survive their community, among them the Radomer Friendly Society, the Radomer Mutual Benefit Society, the Radomer Aid Society and other Radom organizations, Fryman said.
Besides establishing communities in Toronto and Montreal, Radomers immigrated to the United States, Brazil, Australia and Israel.
Fryman’s uncle, he pointed out, was on board the famed ship, Exodus, and ended up helping found a synagogue in Israel called B’nai Radom.
His uncle returned to Radom to find the community destroyed and even the cemeteries desecrated. The Nazis had taken the headstones and used them to pave aerodrome runways and roads. Thanks to an intervention with the Polish government, the headstones were retrieved and placed in a memorial in Radom to honour those who died, Fryman said.
Fryman has been in touch with Radomers around the world through social media sites and he hopes they will support the project, either financially or through the donation of memorabilia.
He estimates it will cost around $30,000 for the museum once completed, but “$10,000 would get me started.”
Fryman believes only a handful of people know the history of the community and he would like to pass on the stories to new generations of people.
“The idea is for the younger generation to appreciate the older generation, keep their heritage and not stray too far,” he said.