Temple Sinai celebrates 70th anniversary with gala

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Magician David Levitan performed for guests during the 70th anniversary gala and auction to celebrate Temple Sinai's birthday. (Photo courtesy of Denis Leon Photographers)

Temple Sinai members spent Saturday evening celebrating the 70th anniversary of both Israel and their congregation.

Temple Sinai Past President Steven Goodman, Executive Director Alison Stamm, Michal Kress and Assistant Rabbi Alex Kress celebrated at the gala and auction on April 28. (Photo courtesy of Denis Leon Photographers)

The Roslyn Heights temple was founded in 1947 and officially adopted the name Temple Sinai in June 1950.

Executive Director Alison Stamm said 320 members attended the gala at the temple, ranging from new parents to founding members.

Stamm said during the cocktail hour, dinner and auction, the temple was presented with 10 proclamations from elected officials including local, county, state and national level honors.

“It was a wonderful celebration of our 70 years and all of the service work we do for the larger community, not just Temple Sinai, but the whole Roslyn community,” Stamm said.

The gala served both as a celebration and a fundraiser, Stamm, focusing on the temple as a whole as well as its teen program Hand in Hand, which connects Temple Sinai teenagers with children in New York City’s homeless shelters.

Stamm said the children are bused from the city to Roslyn Heights on Sundays, and the teens spend time mentoring and playing with the children.

Temple Sinai members enjoyed dancing and entertainment during the 70th anniversary gala. (Photo courtesy of Denis Leon Photographers)

“The neatest part about that program is we offer these children the opportunity to do charity work themselves,” Stamm said. “When they’re here with us, they feel empowered and they’re able to help other communities in need such as kids receiving chemotherapy treatments, veterans, local fire departments and more. They do projects to benefit other people, and it’s a very empowering experience for these kids who, for the most part, are the recipients of charity, but this gives them the chance to help others.”

Stamm said the program has approximately 30 participants, but 140 teenagers participate in the temple’s nine teen programs, making it the largest congregational teen program in the greater New York City area.

“We’ve seen incredible success with our teen programs, and part of this gala is celebrating that and ensuring the continuity of it and that we’re able to fund it going forward,” Stamm said.

Temple Sinai members bid on auction items and donated money during the live appeal to Hand in Hand, a teen program run by the temple. (Photo courtesy of Denis Leon Photographers)

Stamm said the temple and its members throughout its history have prided themselves on being pioneers in the community, and the group officially established itself as a Reform Judaism temple in 1951.

Throughout the years, temples and other religious organizations have seen a drop in membership, but Stamm said Temple Sinai is still a thriving community of young members new to the community with children in the temple’s religious school, which serves approximately 350 kindergarteners through seventh-graders, and old members who have worshiped with the congregation for decades.

Stamm said while the temple often hosts religious events, she believes the cultural programming at Temple Sinai benefits not only members but the entire North Shore.

“Over the course of 70 years, it’s been a history of strength, and we have seen Temple Sinai grow with the times and be responsive to the community,” Stamm said. “Our finger is always on the pulse of what’s happening in society, so we adapt to change along with society.”

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