MUSKOGEE, Okla. – When Temple Beth Ahaba synagogue closed Aug. 21 after a century of serving the Muskogee Jewish community, Miriam Freedman saw a big part of her heritage disappear.

She was born into the Beth Ahaba congregation in 1925 and had been there for much of her life.

So she took particular pleasure last week watching school children sing and pray at the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art in Tulsa, sitting on the same sturdy wooden pews that she had occupied for decades at the Muskogee synagogue.

“I love seeing it. It was my idea,” she said.

Freedman said she realized over the last several years, as the membership of Muskogee’s last synagogue dwindled to four or five older couples, that the end of the congregation was near.

She contacted the Sherwin Miller museum with an idea: Would the museum be interested in preserving some of the artifacts from the synagogue when it closed?

The museum, in fact, had a replica of a Jewish synagogue and was delighted to get not only the pews, but the ark, or cabinet, that held the Torah scroll, two menorahs, a lectern and other furniture and artifacts, as well as thousands of documents, photographs, membership rolls and other archives of the congregation’s long history.

By October, the Beth Ahaba items were in place in the museum, and the children from the Mizel Jewish Community Day School, located in the same complex at 2021 E. 71st St., were using the replica synagogue for their Tuesday and Thursday worship services.

“That really brings it to life,” said Arthur Feldman, director of the museum. “It’s real. … the kids now have a more authentic worship site.”

Rabbi Marshal Klaven, who conducted the deconsecration service that formally ended the congregation Aug. 21, said the ceremony was similar to a memorial service for a person, a way to acknowledge the vibrancy and historical contributions of the congregation.

Of all the congregation’s stories, Klaven said, his favorite involves the Torah scroll the synagogue used for 100 years. For its first 50 years,the congregation used a Torah scroll on loan from a Richmond, Va., congregation with the same name.

After 50 years, the Richmond congregation donated the Torah scroll to the Muskogee congregation as a permanent gift.

As one of its last acts, the Muskogee members agreed to refurbish the scroll and give it back to the Richmond congregation.