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Scout Builds a Genizah for His Synagogue

Posted August 24, 2023

Stephen Strauss, who graduated from Hillsborough High School in June, broke ground this summer on a new genizah for Congregation Kehilat Shalom (CKS) in Montgomery Township. Strauss carefully planned and oversaw the construction as his Boy Scout Eagle Scout project.

From left: Rabbi Jake Best Adler, Stephen Strauss, Shelly Strauss, Naomi Strauss, Sam Strauss, Scott Strauss, and Juliet Strauss.

A genizah is a repository for sacred Jewish manuscripts and ritual objects that are no longer used due to age or damage. CKS was founded in 1982, originally meeting at the Montgomery EMS building until the congregation moved to its location at 253 Belle Mead- Griggstown Road.

Over the past 40 years, CKS has collected more than 500 old prayer books, texts, and ritual objects that, according to Jewish law, cannot be thrown away or burned. Proper disposal of these sacred objects is via a burial ceremony, either in a Jewish cemetery or in a site set aside for this sacred use.

Stephen Strauss (left) with his brother Sam and his mother, Juliet Strauss. They are standing behind the genizah Stephen built for this Eagle Scout project.

Strauss worked with Montgomery Township public works and with various contractors to design and build an appropriate burial site for all of the retired sacred items. Fellow scouts supported Strauss, helping to place the books and ritual objects in the genizah.

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Rabbi Jake Best Adler led a short dedication ceremony. As a “living” genizah, we will be able to add books and objects as necessary in the future, Adler said. “We offer our sincere gratitude to Stephen and the Strauss family for planning and overseeing this project for us, and we are excited to be able to properly say goodbye to retired sacred texts and objects for years to come.”


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