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Mission & History

MISSION:

Our mission is to inspire our vibrant, inclusive, egalitarian, multi-generational Conservative Kehilla through education, worship, charity and social action. We celebrate diversity, and support each other in our pursuit of Jewish learning, values and spirituality.

WHO ARE WE AND HOW DID WE GET HERE?

                            

  

Hollywood, FL 1940: About 12 Jewish families lived in or near Hollywood, a young city of about 3400 residents. They had no Temple, no Rabbi and no Torah. But they were determined to celebrate the High Holidays together. Lay people stepped up to lead the services and, with borrowed chairs, prayer books and tallisim, services were held in the original Veteran of Foreign Wars Hall on the corner of Dixie Highway and Washington Street. This small group of Jews continued to meet socially in each other’s homes to enjoy conversation, cards and refreshments. Over time, the gatherings grew larger, the camaraderie grew stronger, and the idea of a more formal organization took hold. On June 15, 1942, the Jewish Community Center of Hollywood, the beginning of Temple Sinai, was chartered “to establish, maintain and operate a Community Center, to provide a place for people to meet for recreational, educational, amusement, religious or other purposes, to further the social life of the community and to develop a civic consciousness and responsibility in its membership….” Samuel Zaconic was the fi rst president. In 1943, the Center moved into its fi rst permanent quarters, a vacant store in the rear of the Morse Arcade on Hollywood Boulevard. The Ladies Auxiliary (Sisterhood) was organized and actively planned and promoted the group, preparing for holidays as well as social activities. Keep in mind that these were the years of World War II. Families came to this area for military duty. Once stationed here, and having experienced the pleasures of a South Florida life, many stayed on after the war. Peace time brought tourism and the population of Hollywood grew, as did the Jewish community. Our fi rst Sefer Torah, prayer books and tallisim were donated and the Center grew in membership and activity, meeting the social, religious and educational needs of the young and growing Jewish community of Hollywood. In 1946, the Center moved to its new home on Polk Street in what is now the Fred Lippman Multi-Purpose Center and the fi rst rabbi was hired, Rabbi Max Kaufman. Membership grew. Shabbat services were held. Adult and youth choirs were organized. The religious school grew and bar mitzvah classes were held. Study groups, public forums and youth clubs flourished. The Center became the hub from which all Jewish activity radiated. Eventually, as with any family, we had growing pains and some members left to form their own congregation. However, our members remained dedicated and, in 1953, the Center began its next phase as Temple Sinai, the Jewish Community of Hollywood. At that time, Temple Sinai hired Rabbi David Shapiro who, along with his wife Leila, became our beloved leader. Rabbi Shapiro was honored with a lifetime contract in 1958 and his warmth, sincerity and insight inspired generations of members. He was joined by Cantor Yehudah Heilbraun and Temple life
flourished. 

In April 1962, Temple Sinai moved to its new home on Johnson Street. With devoted planners such as Fred Greene, William Horvitz, Seymour Mann and Sidney Kay, the new campus would be home to an active, vibrant, Conservative Jewish congregation. To highlight our importance in the community, guest speaker U.S. Senator George Smathers addressed the members at the dedication ceremony.

During those years, Temple Sinai’s educational and youth activities grew to include over 350 children. Our Sisterhood grew and continued to provide vital assistance wherever needed. Rabbi Shapiro served with love, humility and patience. Temple facilities were expanded and, through the generosity of several notable families, the Louis Zinn Memorial Chapel and the Lippman Youth Center were opened. In 1981, the Temple honored its long-time legal advisor with the dedication of the Paul B. Anton Religious School.
 
Also in 1981, Rev. Yitzhak Goldenholz began his long tenure as Ritual Director. His quiet warmth and charm made him a beloved member of our Temple. He taught Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, read Torah and added immeasurably to our religious services.

In 1990, Rabbi Randall Konigsburg was hired to be our spiritual leader. Cantor Bertram Kieff er and then Cantor Michael Krausman provided spiritual uplifting with their beautiful voices and liturgy.

This was, however, a time of financial difficulties, not only for Temple Sinai but also for Temple Beth Shalom, the other Conservative synagogue in Hollywood. Temple Beth Shalom closed its doors and many of its members joined Temple Sinai, where they were warmly and graciously welcomed. But our Temple building was deteriorating, the banquet hall was in dire need of renovation and major repairs were needed throughout the campus.

When Temple Beth Shalom closed, it left a valuable piece of property in a good location. Interestingly, the bank that foreclosed on Temple Beth Shalom also held the mortgage on Temple Sinai’s property. The bank made an off er too good to refuse – to exchange properties with financial incentives to Temple Sinai. The quality of Temple Beth Shalom’s facilities on 46th Avenue along with the recognition that a majority of Temple Sinai’s members now lived west of I-95, led Temple Sinai’s Board to accept the bank’s off er. Temple President Bradley Buschel oversaw the details and ensured the new location was ready for us. 

On September 4, 1994, a glorious, clear and sunny Sunday, an unprecedented “Torah Caravan” heralded the big move. The Torahs in the Johnson Street Temple were ceremoniously taken out of the Temple by our members, carried to cars decorated for the occasion and a parade of cars, bicycles and roller skaters accompanied them to their new home on 46th Avenue. A Klezmer band greeted us as we entered our new home and the Torahs were lovingly placed in their new ark. While it was bittersweet to leave our home on Johnson Street, the new location provided many benefits for our congregation.   
    

With its new home, Temple Sinai stabilized and grew in vision, purpose and creativity. The renovated sanctuary welcomed us for prayer. The school building housed our preschool and religious school. An in-house caterer renovated the ballroom, making it a popular event venue.

In 2006, Rabbi Dr. Gideon M. Goldenholz, son of our beloved Rev. Goldenholz, decided to leave his pulpit in Milwaukee to be closer to his dear family. From his fi rst service on Rosh Hashanah, we knew we had found a Rabbi that could deliver the spirituality we needed and off er each congregant the connection they desired. It also brought together father and son on the same bima, an incredibly heartwarming sight for all. 

In 2007, the Temple received a tremendous gift for its preschool from its longtime benefactor, Harriet Kasselman, in memory of her late husband Kenneth. It allowed the preschool to be refurbished to provide quality child care and education in a school that was recognized as a leader in its field. The continued growth of the preschool and its importance to our families and congregation, led to the construction of a new preschool building in 2011. 

This significant financial endeavor would not have been possible without the full support of Presidents Dr. Barry Alter and Dr. Larry Marks, the acquisition of full bank
financing arranged by Lloyd Edelstein, and the committee leadership of Jared Anton. In 2015, the new preschool building was dedicated and it provides the best of child care in a warm, modern environment.

Which brings us to today. Temple Sinai stands proudly to provide an egalitarian, Conservative Judaism congregation, committed to diversity and inclusiveness. We strive to merge the past with the present to form a future that will endure and grow for us and for our children. We have never lost our sense of community, our appreciation of education and ritual, and our commitment to Conservative Judaism. Yet we endeavor to meet the needs of a modern world where creative eff orts are sometimes called upon to meet all the needs of our congregation.

 

Thu, October 1 2020 13 Tishrei 5781