For Over 60 Years: An Intimate and Caring Environment
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 dedicated to fulfilling the highest ideals of Judaism through leadership and service, acting as a vital influence on the life of the community. A guiding principle was to create an intimate, caring environment with a close-knit membership.
By September, 1946, Temple Sinai was established. The first services were held in borrowed space generously provided by two Squirrel Hill churches, but within months, the fast-growing congregation had purchased the Worthington Mansion and established its permanent home at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Murdoch Street.
During its formative years, the Temple Sinai family prospered under strong lay leadership. Spiritual growth enabled the congregation to overcome difficulties and adapt to meet the changes in society and culture head on. Our history is bound by the passion of a shared mission. It was and continues to be a mission built on self-sacrifice, an amazing willingness of the membership and staff to devote long hours doing important chores-but doing them together.
The congregation’s resolve deepened, always finding the way over hurdles to maintain the splendid property and grounds, while sustaining the original mission and continuing to grow. The Falk Auditorium and Religious School were constructed adjacent to the mansion in 1957. The magnificent Sanctuary, rededicated as the Florence and Mike Leebov Sanctuary in 1984, was originally completed in 1969. A major program of extensive repairs and renovations was undertaken in 1993 primarily to refurbish the religious school space and add an elevator. A second major renovation was completed in 2006, incorporating a gracious entry lobby, meeting space, new bathrooms and assuring that all portions of our most sacred spaces, including the bima, are fully accessible. As a result, the temple maintains a physical environment that is attractive and responsive to the needs of the congregation.
Since his appointment as Rabbi in 1988, James A. Gibson has conveyed the message that the synagogue is a place to make life’s most vital connections – to each other and to God. Many new programs and other opportunities have been created, allowing pursuit of one’s faith according to personal needs with the fullest possible support and stimulation. Moreover, an invitation to engage with the larger community in a commitment to social justice is an indispensable element of the synagogue’s mission.
As a result, the congregation has grown in spirit as well in size. In 1988, the congregation comprised about 600 families. Today the circle has widened to include more than 850 families, while Temple Sinai remains one of Pittsburgh’s most closely-knit congregations. We are young, old and in-between, a vibrant multi-generation congregation with a bright future. On any given night at Temple Sinai, people arrive, eager to learn, to plan, to run a school, to change the world.