I read the article about Lowell in the March 11 Jewish Journal, “After elected official’s anti-Semitic slur, Lowell Jews urge tolerance.”
I grew up in Lowell during the era you wrote about and my father, Henry Bower, was a member and secretary of the Montefiore Synagogue for about 25 years. We also were members of Temple Beth El, which really was the hub of Jewish social activity in the community. The Anshe Sfard Shul was diagonally across the street from the Montefiore Shul, and during the High Holidays, the congregants would take breaks from their long day of prayers and gather in the street to talk. As you said in your article, the Jewish community has dwindled in Lowell down to probably less than 20 people.
The Jewish community during the 1960s and ’70s was very tight knit during that time. So tight knit that a handshake was all they needed to seal a deal on a house or to buy a car. My dad purchased our house on a Sunday morning at Montefiore Synagogue with a handshake and my dad bought me a car the same way. Growing up, I encountered many incidences of anti-Semitism. Later in life, I taught in Lowell and encountered it in the schools by a few teachers. I am not surprised at all that a Lowell public official would utter words of anti-Semitism. I only hope that this incident will be addressed by the School Committee and officials of Lowell.
Cynthia Fine, Andover