25 May 2009

Sundays at Sea

From Time on this day in 1936:

Last week the Christian Science Monitor issued a 16-page supplement devoted almost entirely to that great new Cunard White Star liner, the Queen Mary, on the eve of her maiden voyage to the U. S. (May 27). Surrounded in the supplement by many an advertisement were pictures and stories describing the ship in detail. Notably abbreviated, however, was the Monitor's report on the Queen Mary's religious facilities: ''The drawing room, on the promenade deck, will be the Queen Mary's church on Sunday."

In that drawing room are a marine Virgin Mary painted by Kenneth Denton Shoesmith, a sacristy and robing room for traveling churchmen. The Queen Mary also has a synagog. But neither pictures nor description of this Jewish house of worship have emanated from Cunard publicity offices, which have boasted about everything else aboard.

In Southampton, where the Queen Mary was berthed last week, her synagog was quietly consecrated by Very Rev. Joseph Herman Hertz, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire. Bearded Rabbi Hertz gazed appreciatively at the handsome seagoing synagog, complete with Shulcran (reading desk). Holy Ark containing the Torah (scroll of Hebrew law) and everlasting lamp. Then he made a little speech pointing out that this was the first time a synagog had ever been included in the original plans of a ship. France's Normandie recently added a synagog seating 48 to take care of Jewish travelers on that line.

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