West End Synagogue’s Social Action committee is seeking former residents of the Whitland Ave. and surrounding neighborhoods.
West End Synagogue has occupied its current site on West End Avenue since the cornerstone was laid in 1950. Through the years, many congregants and members of Nashville’s Jewish community have lived in the adjoining historic Whitland neighborhood. And now an effort is afoot to gather the names of those who have called the area home. Last month a group of congregants and friends manned a lemonade stand at the annual Whitland 4th of July parade, both to celebrate and hopefully to raise awareness of their quest. “We want to show that this was and still is a Jewish neighborhood,” says Mosh Koch, who helped spearhead the effort on behalf of West End Synagogue’s Social Action committee.
Koch, like many of those he is hoping to reach, is a Nashville native. “I was born here, and both my parents and grandparents were born here,” he says. Koch cites the many immigrants from Eastern Europe who came to Nashville after World War II, many of whom spoke primarily German.
Among those early immigrants were Dr. Frank Boehm’s parents. He has fond memories of growing up in the neighborhood. “When I was a kid, we lived on Crescent and I went to West End Junior High,” he says, “Twice a day I walked up and down Whitland and just loved it. In fact, I loved it so much when I returned to Nashville as a young married man, Whitland Avenue was the only place I wanted to live. So, with the help of Shirley Zeitlin, I bought my first home there.”
Another lifelong resident is Rodney Rosenblum. He lived in the neighboring Sylvan Park area as a young child, but most days spent some time on Whitland Ave. “I walked to and from Ransom School most days,” he says, “Before I440, we’d stop along the way to play in the area. You name it, we did it.” Through the years, Rosenblum says his family moved a bit farther away to the suburbs, but he always longed for the old neighborhood. “I still say I wish we hadn’t moved to the suburbs,” he says.
Koch is hoping the effort to locate former residents of the Whitland neighborhood will provide opportunities for further engagement with both the Jewish community and West End Synagogue in particular.
If you, or someone you know, is a one-time resident of Whitland Ave. and surrounding neighborhood, contact Mosh Koch at email@example.com.