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This profile was last updated on 3/22/13  and contains information from public web pages.
 
Background

Employment History

  • President
    Brotherhood and Temple
Web References
History - Temple Beth Zion - Brookline, MA
www.tbzbrookline.org, 22 Mar 2013 [cached]
Despite progressive voices within the congregation, including that of former shul president Gabe Belt, the Conservative movement's haltingly slow but inexorable inclusion of women in shul life was vehemently opposed by the Temple's rabbi, who refused to allow women on the bimah.
Eventually, Gabe convinced the rabbi to allow women to lead carefully-selected readings.
...
Gabe Belt, an honored and esteemed member of Temple Beth Zion was describing the first High Holiday services at the Temple which took place in the fall of 1946.
Gabe, the son of one of the founders of the Temple, told how his parents along with 13 other families from Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan felt the need for a shul in their part of Brookline.
...
Gabe remembers as a 14 year old going from apartment house to apartment house, looking for Jewish names on the mailboxes. He would ring the doorbells of people he thought might be Jewish and ask for donations. And everyone who was asked gave.
The first High Holiday services of this new congregation took place in the Torf Funeral Home at the corner of Washington and Beacon Street the same year. The Rabbi who conducted the services was a member of Congregation Kehillath Israel; he was paid $100.00 for the three days. "The chapel was full," said Gabe. "There must have been at least 400 people attending our services."
...
"It was what they were used to in the old shuls in Roxbury or Dorchester," explained Gabe.
...
According to Gabe, 500 people showed up for the combined upstairs and downstairs services.
...
They would, in the words of Gabe who organized these events, 'become a little mellow and quite generous.' These dinners could raise as much as $25,000 from 30-40 people.
Gabe was President of the Brotherhood and Temple for twelve years. He was responsible for organizing monthly breakfast meetings at which the participants would get together to eat lox and bagels and listen to local and national speakers.
...
Gabe made Man of the Year on January 14, l973.
...
There were variety shows, the musical, Fiddler on the Roof was put on in the Brookline High School by members of the congregation (Gabe was the producer), and New Year's Eve parties at the Temple became a tradition. Until the congregation aged and dwindled in number, Temple Beth Zion played many roles in the lives of the Washington Square Jewish community.
Gabe was a revolutionary in the Temple.
...
Gabe led a movement to permit women to conduct part of the service and encountered great resistance from the Rabbi at that time. However, Gabe felt very strongly that women should not be prohibited from participating in the service. "Women are Jews too and should be allowed to worship equally as do the men." Although he lost the battle over allowing women to have an aliyah, he at least won permission to have them read parts of the service. This caused such a rift in the congregation that many members who were against this change left.
The once-vibrant congregation went into a decline during the 80s and early 90s. According to Gabe, the now adult children of the original congregants moved away as did their retired parents. Death took its toll and as few young Jews were joining, the membership shrank substantially. Curiously, the decline in membership was not due to the paucity of Jews in the neighborhood. They were moving to the Washington Square area in large numbers but according to Gabe, they had little interest in Jewish activities.
But the Temple still had life in it and Gabe, along with Irwin Pless and Joe Wilion, made a decision that was to transform the congregation.
...
By the end of the year, Gabe Belt, Irwin Pless and Joe Wilion had convinced Reb Moshe that Temple Beth Zion itself was a community worth saving.
Who We Are » Our Jewish World :: Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, Massachusetts
tbz.darimonline.org, 17 Sept 2007 [cached]
Gabe Belt, an honored and esteemed member of Temple Beth Zion was describing the first High Holiday services at the Temple which took place in the fall of 1946.
Gabe, the son of one of the founders of the Temple, told how his parents along with 13 other families from Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan felt the need for a shul in their part of Brookline.
...
Gabe remembers as a 14 year old going from apartment house to apartment house, looking for Jewish names on the mailboxes. He would ring the doorbells of people he thought might be Jewish and ask for donations. And everyone who was asked gave.
The first High Holiday services of this new congregation took place in the Torf Funeral Home at the corner of Washington and Beacon Street the same year. The Rabbi who conducted the services was a member of Kehillath Israel; he was paid $100.00 for the three days. "The chapel was full," said Gabe. "There must have been at least 400 people attending our services."
...
"It was what they were used to in the old shuls in Roxbury or Dorchester," explained Gabe.
...
According to Gabe, 500 people showed up for the combined upstairs and downstairs services.
...
They would, in the words of Gabe who organized these events, 'become a little mellow and quite generous.' These dinners could raise as much as $25,000 from 30-40 people.
Gabe was President of the Brotherhood and Temple for twelve years. He was responsible for organizing monthly breakfast meetings at which the participants would get together to eat lox and bagels and listen to local and national speakers.
...
Gabe made Man of the Year on January 14, l973.
...
There were variety shows, the musical, Fiddler on the Roof was put on in the Brookline High School by members of the congregation (Gabe was the producer), and New Year's Eve parties at the Temple became a tradition. Until the congregation aged and dwindled in number, Temple Beth Zion played many roles in the lives of the Washington Square Jewish community.
Gabe was a revolutionary in the Temple.
...
Gabe led a movement to permit women to conduct part of the service and encountered great resistance from the Rabbi at that time. However, Gabe felt very strongly that women should not be prohibited from participating in the service. "Women are Jews too and should be allowed to worship equally as do the men." Although he lost the battle over allowing women to have an aliyah, he at least won permission to have them read parts of the service. This caused such a rift in the congregation that many members who were against this change left.
The once-vibrant congregation went into a decline during the 80's and early 90's. According to Gabe, the now adult children of the original congregants moved away as did their retired parents. Death took its toll and as few young Jews were joining, the membership shrank substantially. Curiously, the decline in membership was not due to the paucity of Jews in the neighborhood. They were moving to the Washington Square area in large numbers but according to Gabe, they had little interest in Jewish activities.
But the Temple still had life in it and Gabe, along with Irwin Pless and Joe Wilion, made a decision that was to transform the congregation.
...
By the end of the year, Gabe Belt, Irwin Pless and Joe Wilion had convinced Reb Moshe that Temple Beth Zion itself was a community worth saving.
Board Members - Temple Beth Zion - Brookline, MA
www.tbzbrookline.org, 19 Sept 2013 [cached]
Gabriel Belt
Who We Are » Our Jewish World :: Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, Massachusetts
www.tbzbrookline.org, 2 Dec 2010 [cached]
Despite progressive voices within the congregation, including that of former shul president Gabe Belt, the Conservative movement's haltingly slow but inexorable inclusion of women in shul life was vehemently opposed by the Temple's rabbi, who refused to allow women on the Bimah.
Eventually, Gabe convinced the rabbi to allow women to lead carefully-selected readings.
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