A Brief History of Temple Sinai: A Vision for an Inclusive Community
In the winter of 1946 a small group of Jewish community leaders gathered to organize a new Reform Temple in Squirrel Hill. The group pledged itself to create a Reform Temple to meet the needs of Pittsburgh’s changing Jewish community, including unaffiliated Jewry and interfaith couples. A guiding principle was to create an intimate, caring environment with a close-knit membership.
Within the year, Temple Sinai was established and the first services were held in borrowed space generously provided by two Squirrel Hill churches. Soon, the fast-growing congregation purchased a place of their own, the beautiful Worthington Mansion at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Murdoch Street.
Over the next two decades, as the congregation grew and flourished, additional space was needed. In 1957 the Falk Auditorium and Religious School were added. In 1969 a new sanctuary was constructed, ultimately rededicated in 1984 as the Florence and Mike Leebov Sanctuary. Extensive repairs and renovations were undertaken in 1993 and 2005 to refurbish and update the religious school space with an elevator, meeting spaces, and new bathrooms, all fully accessible to all and proudly, “a place for every person.”
Throughout the years the congregation has remained strongly rooted in our dedication to inclusivity and our Reform Jewish tradition as well as in a willingness to thoughtfully adapt to meet the changes in society and culture. We continue to:
- Reach out to unaffiliated Jewry and interfaith families
- Offer an inclusive, modern view of Jewish Tradition
- Enhance Jewish Learning
- Engage our larger community
Since his appointment as Rabbi in 1988, James A. Gibson has expanded on our founders’ vision that our synagogue is a place to make life’s most vital connections – to each other and to God. Clergy and committed congregants continue to create inspiring programs and opportunities that encourage and support personal pursuit of Jewish life. And, together, our congregation remains committed to the larger community and to social justice as an indispensable element of Temple Sinai’s mission.
Temple Sinai continues to inspire and remains one of Pittsburgh’s most closely-knit and innovative congregations. In looking toward the future, and in conjunction with continuous improvement in programming, facilities and outreach, Temple Sinai has instituted the area’s first pledge-based membership, welcoming all Jews, whatever their financial means. We are young, old, and in-between, a vibrant multi-generation congregation with a bright future and welcome to all.