Temple Sinai celebrates 65 years
Sixty-five years ago this past August, David Glick made a motion “to announce the beginning of a new congregation in Pittsburgh to be known as Sinai. That motion was ratified at an opening meeting held at the Schenley Hotel Sept. 8, 1946, when 40 families joined hands in establishing Pittsburgh’s second Reform congregation.
Temple Sinai comes from humble beginnings: a tiny room at Forbes and Murray avenues housed the offices; two neighboring churches opened their hearts and their doors for worship and religious school. Dr. Burton E. Levinson, the first rabbi, accepted the challenge of molding a new congregation in liberal Judaism from a small group of unaffiliated families who knew neither each other nor what Reform Judaism had to offer them.
Growth was rapid. In August 1947, the congregation purchased the Worthington Mansion and converted it into a house of worship and learning, creating the Barnett Chapel from what was originally the dining room. Within a few short years, the group had grown so large in number that High Holy Days services were held at the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association building in Oakland. Outgrowing that, in 1949 services were moved to Carnegie Music Hall, where they remained for a number of years. Then in 1955 came the campaign to buy the property next door to the mansion and build a sanctuary that could hold everyone who wanted to belong.
Of the original 40 families, Temple Sinai is blessed to still have Sandy Baskind, Myra Fall, Elinor Goodman, Florence Leebov and Margaret Reich, who have been sharing their stories and memories.
The community is welcome to join in the festivities Friday, Sept. 9, when Temple Sinai begins to celebrate the 65th year. The evening will include a joyful Shabbat evening service at 8 p.m. and a special oneg following services, honoring the congregation and the founding families.