AUBURN — Sun shone through the stained-glass windows of the Beth Abraham Synagogue on Sunday, and the large, empty room that was once the main sanctuary seemed to echo the presence of past worshipers.

It was a bittersweet occasion for the Lewiston-Auburn Jewish community: the deconsecration ceremony for the 100-year-old synagogue at 35 Laurel Ave. and moving the sacred Torah scroll to Temple Shalom at 74 Bradman St.

“For many of you, it’s a sad day,” Treasurer Mike Shapiro said. “But that sadness will disappear. (This synagogue) was wonderful, and it will be wonderful again.”

Member Jamie Isaacson reminisced about “the glory days of Jewish life,” when the area had a Jewish community center, a kosher butcher, and other related facilities.

“There wasn’t a seat in the house during high holidays, Isaacson said. “In this place, we all felt a great sense of community.”

Devoted worshippers wearing colorful yarmulkes listened to Rabbi Sruli Dresdner, who later welcomed the 15 remaining members of Beth Abraham into Temple Shalom.

Isaacson carried the Torah from Beth Abraham – with the other members singing and clapping – to his car, where he and the rest of the attendees were escorted by Auburn police to Temple Shalom.

The Beth Abraham Synagogue was recently sold to developer Oleg Opalnyk from Pownal, who owns OPO Custom Design & Restoration LLC. Opalnyk plans to convert it to 10 “high-end” apartments.

His brother, Andrii Opalnyk, was at the ceremony, and said it was important the Jewish community have a proper ceremony and a proper goodbye.

“The building has so much history, and the Jewish religion is so interesting,” said. “We have such respect for them, we couldn’t say no. This building is so beautiful and awesome, I want to see it all.”

Barbara Shapiro, the self-proclaimed “main volunteer,” has been finding homes for the much-loved items in the synagogue, including the main ark, which was sold to the Maine State Museum in Augusta, and will be the centerpiece for one of their 2018 exhibits.

According to Shapiro, only 15 people were expected to attend the ceremony. About 50 showed up.

Adele Silverman of Auburn said her grandparents worshiped at Beth Abraham, and she’s glad the building is being put to use rather than being demolished or sitting empty.

For Elinor Wilner Goldblatt, precious memories were everywhere.

“I taught Sunday school here, right there,” Goldblatt said, pointing and looking lovingly at an empty corner of the downstairs room. “I was 14 when I started. Being here brings everything back.”

As for the renovation, Goldblatt said, “It’s time.”

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