A History of Significance

Although Sinai Free Synagogue is Westchester's "newest" Reform congregation, our roots go back almost 100 years. Formed in 1999 by a merger of Mount Vernon's Sinai Temple and the Free Synagogue of Westchester, our 250-member congregation has a long, distinguished history.

Sinai Temple, founded in 1906, was the first Reform congregation in Westchester County. One of its early worshipers was Civil War veteran Moritz Lowenstein. Eleanor Roosevelt was one of many distinguished speakers to energize the congregation at services. In the 1970s, Sinai Temple of the Bronx (whose spiritual leaders included Rabbi Herman Saville) moved from the Grand Concourse and merged with Sinai Temple of Mount Vernon, which occupied a beautiful building on Crary Avenue from 1926 until the merger with the Free Synagogue of Westchester.

The Free Synagogue of Westchester was founded in 1927, patterned after the liberal viewpoint of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan. The congregation's prior home, just south of the beautiful new synagogue building, served as a secret storage point for arms bound for Israel as the new nation was fighting for its independence. The original house on the property had been a stop for slaves heading to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

Both congregations were known for their active membership and dynamic rabbis who were at the forefront of the move to establish the State of Israel, and were early and outspoken supporters of the civil rights movement in America.

Judea Reform Temple of the Bronx closed its doors in the fall of 2006 and joined with SFS to celebrate our shared heritage and communal values.

Our Rabbis, Past and Present

Sinai Temple Free Synagogue Sinai Free Synagogue

George Alexander Kohut
1906 - 1907

 

Max Maccoby
1927 - 1956

 

Morris W. Barzilai
1999 - Present

 

I. Warsaw
1907 - 1908

 

Leon A. Jick
1957 - 1966

 

 

Joseph I. Gorfinkle
1908 - 1929

 

Max Hausen
1966 - 1972

 

 

Dr. S. Andhil Fineberg
1929 - 1937

 

James H. Perman
1972 - 1993

 

 

Dr. Henry E. Kagan
1937 - 1969

 

Bernard M. Zlotowitz
1993 - 1994

 

 

Hirshel L. Jaffe
1970 - 1973

 

Morris W. Barzilai
1994 - 1999

 

 

Cyrus Arfa
1974 - 1988

 

   

David Lipman
1988 - 1999