MONESSEN – The last Jewish synagogue in the Mon Valley has closed its doors due to a shrinking congregation.
Temple Beth Am in Monessen held its final service two weeks ago after its membership dipped to below 20 families, said Jack L. Bergstein, a former president of the synagogue.
“You can’t operate in that small of a group,” Bergstein said Friday.
He said there were once synagogues in neighboring Charleroi, Donora and Monongahela decades ago when steel mills were operating and the Mon Valley had a thriving Jewish community.
“They all died or moved away,” Bergstein said. “Western Pennsylvania is not like it used to be 40, 50 years ago.”
He said the congregation hopes to sell the 65-year-old building at 1000 Watkins St. Prior to 1954, Jewish services were held in Monessen at a synagogue near First Street and Schoonmaker Avenue, a building that was torn down long ago, he said.
The closest options involve attending synagogues in Washington or Greensburg.
“I’ll probably find something in Pittsburgh,” Bergstein said.