The melodic sounds of muted horns, festive woodwinds, and rhythmic clapping came rolling through Milton on a drizzly Sunday early this month.

Led by a police escort and children carrying a banner, the celebratory procession made its happy way from Town Hall down Reedsdale Road. As the unusual commotion approached, with music blaring from speakers on a pickup truck, people emerged from their homes, some waving and shouting encouragement when they recognized neighbors among the approximately 150 marchers.

After four years without a building to call its own, the town’s only Jewish congregation was about to dedicate its new temple, and it marked the occasion in style. Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills, born in the 2013 merger of the former Temple Shalom in Milton and Temple Beth El in Quincy, has come home.


As congregants clapped along with the traditional Jewish music spilling from the pickup, loud blasts from shofars — ancient musical instruments made from rams’ horns — added to the general clamor. Under protective canopies called chuppahs used at Jewish weddings, themselves protected by plastic this day from passing showers, the congregants took turns bearing three of Beth Shalom’s sacred Torah scrolls to their new home, an 8,500-square-foot building on just under two acres of donated land not far from the Milton town cemetery.

“The spiritual weight [of the scrolls] was a lot more powerful” than their physical heft, said Ben Rosenbaum, 27, a third-generation congregation member who shared in the honor of carrying the scrolls.

Beth Shalom’s four other scrolls were deemed too heavy to carry and made the journey on a trolley bus, which also conveyed those who found the mile-long trek too taxing.

That such a procession preceded the dedication of the new facility seemed especially appropriate, since the congregation’s homecoming ended an extended period with no fixed address. Several congregants compared those four-plus years to the 40 spent by Moses and the ancient Jews who wandered the desert after fleeing Egypt.


Rabbi Alfred Benjamin, the congregation’s longtime leader, said the process actually began about 13 years ago when Temple Shalom, with the help of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, decided to leave its oversized synagogue on Blue Hill Avenue after more than 60 years. The building had become too big and expensive for a group that had dwindled to about 100 families, so the congregation in 2011 sold the property to Concord Baptist Church of Boston, which itself had outgrown its building in the city’s South End.

The ensuing years of homelessness, during which temple members rented space from the First Congregational Church of Milton, Pierce Middle School, and several other organizations in town and adjoining Quincy, brought unanticipated benefits.

“They haven’t just been tenants,” said the Rev. John Allen, First Congregational’s minister. “It’s been an opportunity to learn about each other’s practices.”

With its local links actually strengthened by its needs, the Temple Shalom congregation had no desire to leave the town, Benjamin said. Then in 2013, when Temple Beth El also couldn’t afford to stay open, the two congregations decided to combine, both spiritually and financially, he added, to find a local location that could accommodate the new group.

But finding a good site on which to build wasn’t easy.

Benjamin said the search committee sifted through some 50 properties before a descendant of the first Jewish property owner in town came to the rescue. With his wife, Andrea, Marvin A. Gordon donated about two acres to the synagogue. It was part of an estate, Gordon told the Globe in 2014, that his grandfather, Samuel Shoolman, had purchased through a straw buyer. Back in the 1920s, said Gordon, Milton property owners wouldn’t sell to Jews.


When the slice of that property exchanged hands this time, things were far more transparent. Gordon and the temple’s representatives worked hard to deal with neighbors’ concerns, making concessions, for example, to lessen the impact of construction vehicles.

On this Sunday, when the procession reached the synagogue’s new home, built at a cost of about $3.75 million, the celebrants entered a sanctuary bathed in natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows.

As a congregation unaffiliated with any main Jewish movement, said Benjamin, Beth Shalom values tradition and creativity. Its new temple — on newly created Shoolman Way, the street sign written in both English and Hebrew — reflects that. The architecture is modern yet straightforward, the space adorned with traditional Jewish symbols, the Torah scrolls stored in a custom-designed ark of wood and stained glass at the center of a glass wall.

“I’m very proud of the community’s sense of hope and values,” Benjamin said after the dedication. “They were determined to make this happen.”

For Jacob Matlin-Heiger, 12, who spoke at the groundbreaking two years ago, it started with the gift of land, the beginning of good tidings. “It didn’t feel like we were a real congregation because we didn’t have a home,” he said. “It’s a good step and a big step for us to make the move.”


Lila Rosenbaum, 86, a member of the congregation for 60 years, agreed. “I can’t explain the joy,’’ she said, “to live to see us build a new synagogue.”

Bret Hauff can be reached at bret.hauff@globe.com. Follow him @b_hauff.