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Temple Sinai (Swampscott, Mass.) Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-565

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains documents from various aspects of Temple Sinai's community life from 1953-2003. These documents include High Holiday prayer supplement booklets, religious school brochures, various event invitations and programs, dedication booklets, photographs, and a comprehensive summary of the Temple's history. The collection also contains newspaper clippings about Rabbi Strassfeld and his and his wife's activism during the Soviet Jewry movement and about the Temple's dedication of a Torah scroll saved during the Holocaust.

Dates

  • undated, 1953-2005

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Historical Note

As vibrant Jewish communities began to emerge in the North Shore suburbs of Massachusetts, the Swampscott-Marblehead region became a significant hub of Jewish life, attracting many Jews from the nearby urban areas. Temple Israel of Swampscott had already been established by 1950, but as the Jewish population continued to increase, Temple Emmanuel, Temple Beth-El, and Temple Sinai were founded to accommodate the growing community.

Temple Sinai initially began solely as a religious school housed in a dilapidated building, but families wanted a better space for education and a stronger community, and the religious school grew into a congregation. In 1953, Dr. Louis Barron, Harold W. Cohen, Dr. Morris Cohen, Adrian Comins, and Harry Weinstein founded the new Temple Sinai building, housing the new congregation, which was comprised of only twenty families. That year was a big year: the Temple's Sisterhood held their first fundraising event, “Dancing under the Stars”; the first High Holiday services were held in September; membership doubled throughout the year; and the formal dedication ceremony was held in December. In 1954, the Temple held its first religious school graduation ceremony and in 1954, Rabbi Dov Zlotnick and Cantor Charles Law were hired. In 1957, Rabbi Jack Reimer and Cantor Henry Hearst replaced Rabbi Zlotnick and Cantor Law, and the Temple's Brotherhood was established. The congregation continued to grow, eventually outgrowing the building. In 1960, a decision was made to build a new building in Marblehead. Rabbi Aaron Weinberg took over in 1962. In the early 1960s, the Temple received a visit from Boston's Cardinal Robert Cushing, who publicly apologized for the Catholic Church's wrongdoings towards the Jews. Rabbi Meyer Strassfeld came to the congregation in 1965 and by the mid-sixties membership reached 230 families. In the 1960s, the Temple had its first service in remembrance of the Shoah during a Yom Kippur Yitzkor.

The following decade presented financial challenges for the congregation. In 1973 a bingo game night was introduced in the hopes that it would provide some income to help maintain the budget. The maintenance of the Hebrew School was costly, especially with declining enrollment. In 1975, Temple Sinai's religious school merged with the religious school of Ahabat Shalom in Lynn, followed by Temple Israel in Swampscott. That same year, the Temple implemented its Redemption Loan Plan which was ultimately successful in 1989. The seventies also brought a new debate for Conservative Judaism: the question of the roles of women in Jewish religious life. The Rabbinical Association of the Conservative Movement announced that each Conservative congregation was free to decide on their own rules for women, and following the trends of the time, Temple Sinai allowed women to be counted in a minyan and to participate in aliyot.1

References

  1. Materials from the collection.

Chronology

1953
Temple Sinai is founded as a Hebrew School and becomes a congregation in July; first High Holiday services in September; Formal dedication in December.
1954
Temple gets their first Rabbi and Cantor–Rabbi Dov Zlotnick and Cantor Charles Law.
1957
New Rabbi and Cantor–Rabbi Jack Reimer and Cantor Henry Hearst.
1957
Temple Brotherhood established.
1960
Decision to build new building in Marblehead.
1962
Rabbi Aaron Weinberg replaces Rabbi Reimer.
Early 1960s
Boston’s Cardinal Richard Cushing visits Temple Sinai and apologizes for what the Catholic Church had done to Jews in the past.
1965
Rabbi Meyer Strassfeld elected as spiritual leader.
1960s
First service in remembrance of the Holocaust during Yom Kippur Yitzkor.
1973
Temple introduces a bingo game night to help raise money for the budget.
1975
Temple Sinai merges with Ahabat Shalom in Lynn, Temple Israel of Swampscott later joins as well; Temple Sinai Redemption Loan Plan is implemented.
1970s
Debate on the role of women in Judaism. Temple Sinai allows women to participate in minyanim and aliyot.
1989
Rabbi and Ruth Strassfeld move to Florida.

Extent

0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box)

Abstract

Temple Sinai was founded in 1953 and became a hub of vibrant Jewish life on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Rabbi Meyer Strassfeld served as the congregation's spiritual leader from 1965-1989, and during this time he involved the community in the Soviet Jewry movement and led the dedication of a Torah scroll saved during the Holocaust. The collection contains many event flyers, booklets, and newspaper clippings that illustrate Temple Sinai's active community.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by the Jewish Heritage Center of the North Shore in 2013.

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Raykhtsaum, 2014
Title
Guide to the Temple Sinai, (Swampscott, Mass.) Records, I-565
Author
Processed by Sarah Raykhtsaum
Date
2014
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245