Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim has celebrated over a half-century as an active and vibrant congregation within the Baltimore Jewish Community. Our shul has been blessed with several wonderful spiritual leaders, Rabbi Chaim Gevantman z"l, served from 1957 until his retirement in 1976, Rabbi Ervin Pries z"l, served from 1976 until his passing in 2002 and our current Rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Silber came to our shul in 2003.
With the exception of the first six-months since incorporation, SOTC has continuously occupied the same location at 7504 Seven Mile Lane. While the address has remained the same, the building has changed significantly over time. The original single-story structure remains, yet was literally raised (not razed) onto stilts and a new first floor added underneath the original building. This addition provided capacity for the classrooms now utilized by our youth groups. To facilitate meaningful davening (prayer services), shiurim (classes), social functions and catered events, our sanctuary and social hall have also received many modifications and upgrades throughout the years.
Our Shul's fifty-plus-years have been enriched by the tireless efforts of many people. For more information on our shul's history, leaders and congregants, please view the video from our 50th Anniversary Gala Event.
Some Notable Events from our History
- October 2, 1956 — For the first time in all of recorded Jewish history, Thirty-two men and women agree… The agreement is on the need for "the formulation of a new orthodox synagogue…"
- March 12, 1957 — First board nominated and elected
- April 8, 1957 — Incorporation of Suburban Orthodox Synagogue
- May 1, 1957 — First Annual Donor Banquet
- July 2, 1957 — Rabbi Chaim Gevantman, visiting from his pulpit in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, discussed his interest in and availability for the position of spiritual leader of Suburban Orthodox Synagogue. Rabbi Gevantman's offer included 'one year without compensation. (Quoted from History of Suburban Orthodox Congregation, 1957-1962 by Harold M. Helfman.)
- August 1957 — Rabbi Gevantman assumes position as spiritual leader
- September 15, 1957 — Dedication of building at current location, 7504 Seven Mile Lane
- January, 1960 — Organization of Suburban Orthodox Brotherhood
- August 26, 1962 — Cornerstone laid for new building at current location
- Chanukah 1962 — Formal dedication of new synagogue
- January, 1976 — Due to ill health, Rabbi Chaim Gevantman retires after eighteen years of devoted service to Suburban Orthodox Congregation
- Weekends of May 1& 29, 1976 — Rabbi Ervin Preis officiates services as visiting Rabbi
- June 9, 1976 — A letter is mailed to the membership indicating the recommendation by the Rabbinic Selection Committee of Rabbi Eliot Feldman as the next Rabbi of Suburban Orthodox Congregation. "However," the letter reads, "the Board also decided that Rabbi Ervin Preis be brought back for a second visitation and that he too be considered for the position."
- June 16, 1976 — After reviewing 38 resumes and visitations by 9 candidates, Suburban Orthodox Congregation votes unanimously for Rabbi Ervin Preis as spiritual leader
- May 8, 1982 — Passing of Rabbi Emeritus Chaim Gevantman. Subsequently, by unanimous vote, Suburban Orthodox Congregation changes its name to Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim.
- Lag B'Omer, May 11, 1982 — Originally scheduled date for 25th Anniversary Banquet. The banquet was postponed due to the passing of Rabbi Gevantman.
- June 2, 1982 — Rescheduled date of 25th Anniversary Banquet
- June 2-3, 1984 — Dedication Weekend of "new" renovations
- March 30, 2008 — 50th Anniversary Banquet honoring Rabbi Shmuel and Aviva Silber