Temple Beth Sholom in Hull will install its first full-time rabbi in decades in a ceremony on Aug. 25 that is open to the public and a sign of what congregants call a strengthening of the coastal town’s Jewish community.
David Grossman comes to Beth Sholom after two years as rabbi at Temple B’nai Tikvah in Canton — the temple formed when Temple Beth Ann in Randolph merged with Temple Beth Abraham of Canton.
Before that, he had been the rabbi at the Randolph synagogue for five years, and cantor there for eight years previously.
A Canton resident, Grossman has a long history with Hull, acting as cantor for many years for the Saturday services at the summer-only Temple Israel of Nantasket, which shares many members and a building with Temple Beth Sholom.
Three of Grossman’s sons also have been cantors at Temple Israel.
“I felt like I had a connection,” Grossman said of his decision to come to Hull. “It’s a haimesh group of people — homey, cozy, welcoming, open-armed. Small but vibrant. I’m very excited to be here.”
Gary Bloch, president of Temple Beth Sholom, said half a dozen families have followed Grossman from Canton to Temple Beth Sholom — adding to the current approximately 80 families, or about 130 people, in the year-round congregation.
About 50 more families take part in the summer services at Temple Israel next door, where Temple Beth Sholom holds its Friday night services from April through October, Bloch said.
“Six doesn’t sound like a lot, but, when you are operating at the margin, an extra six or 10 families is huge,” Bloch said. “It’s the difference between staying alive, or not, over the long term. So it’s very exciting for us.”
According to local historian Steve Greenberg — a board member of both Hull temples — Hull has had a strong Jewish presence since the late 1800s, when wealthy Jews looking for a place to summer found that Hull was welcoming when other communities on the South Shore were not.
Enough Jews vacationed in Hull that in 1920 families built Temple Israel of Nantasket — a grand structure of Middle Eastern style but lacking central heating because of its seasonal purpose — on what is now called Hadassah Way.
By the 1960s, so many Jewish families had settled in Hull year round that up to 50 percent of Hull High School’s students were Jewish and the public schools closed for Jewish holidays, Greenberg said. At that time, Temple Beth Sholom was built and opened for year-round use.
But many people in the next generation moved away from Hull, and in the last 20 years, Temple Beth Sholom shrank considerably and closed its Jewish school, Greenberg said.
Greenberg said both the summer and year-round temples in Hull — which are intertwined — have stopped losing members, though, and “the Jewish community is strengthening.”
There are plans for more adult education classes and a capital campaign to winterize and improve Temple Israel.
And since July 1, Grossman has been a full-time rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom. His formal installation will take place Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary of Temple Israel.