A Brief History

April 2, 1957: 14 families gathered to create the First Reform Jewish Congregation of Springfield.

October, 1957: The Temple's initial publication, "The Bulletin," was issued and a volunteer choir was formed.

December 1957: Now featuring more than 75 families, the Temple was accepted as a member of UAHC (Union of American Hebrew Congregations).

February 1958: The Temple became Sharey Shalom Suburban Reform Congregation, and the Women's and Youth Group were formed.

September 6, 1958: Rabbi Israel "Sy" Dresner was installed as the Temple's first full-time Rabbi. A lifetime civil rights activist, Rabbi Dresner was one of the original Freedom Riders of the early 1960's. He worked and walked alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to confront and oppose racism and segregation in the south.

** Temple Sha'arey Shalom has a long history of social action: in the 60s and early 70s, we became a leader in local, national, and worldwide efforts to promote social justice, civil rights, and political awareness. Our social action program continues today.

February, 1959: The congregation held its first Bar Mitzvah.

June 1959: The Temple's first Torah was dedicated.

December, 1959: The Men's Club was formed.

January, 1960: The Temple's first library was dedicated.

April, 1961: The ground-breaking ceremony for the Temple building took place. Prior to that, services were held at the Springfield Presbyterian Parish House, and Chisholm School housed the Temple's Sunday and Hebrew schools. Dedication of the Temple building was held on the weekend of April 27-28, 1961.

May, 1961: The first Bar Mitzvah was held in the new Sanctuary.

June, 1961: The first Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation services took place.

September, 1962: The Temple's name was officially modified to Temple Sharey Shalom.

*Note: In 1972, the fourth grade challenged the English transliteration of the Hebrew, and the name (including the one engraved in stone on the side of the building) was changed to Temple Sha'arey Shalom.

1970: Rabbi Howard Shapiro was chosen to succeed Rabbi Dresner. He was welcomed at his first Shabbat Service in September.

January, 1971: A Temple group participated in a Jewish National Fund-sponsored trip and dedicated a 4,000-tree woodland in the Bar Kochba Forest near Jerusalem.

Summer, 1973: Rabbi Shapiro led the first Temple trip to Israel. They traveled through Israel, and held adult and teen Bar and Bat Mitzvahs on top of Masada. That same summer, Confirmation students spent six weeks in Israel working on a moshav.

1980: Following the Camp David accords, Rabbi Shapiro led a "second-timers' trip," visiting both Israel and Egypt. Today, we are partnered with Kehillat Ra'anan in Israel and we help to rebuild the lives of Israel's terror victims.

1982: We welcomed Rabbi Joshua Goldstein, our new Rabbi, and his family.

1984: A Nursery school was established.

Mid-1980s: "Introduction to Judaism" classes began for interfaith couples, a prerequisite for our Rabbi officiating at their wedding.

1986: A Shabbat Morning Study Minyan was established, which continues to this day.

1988: The Temple welcomed Cantor Amy Daniels to the congregation, who succeeded Cantor Irving Kramerman. Cantor Daniels also succeeded Choir Director Ron Brown. She added a Junior Choir and Band to the musical program. In 1997, she became our Religious School Director.

October, 1989: "Lunch with the Rabbi" began.

1990: Brotherhood acquired a Sukkah, providing more space for worshippers during Sukkot.

1995: The Renaissance Group was founded for members age 55+. More than 100 senior members participate in trips, brunches and learning, continuing their lifetime involvement with the Temple.

June, 2012: Rabbi Goldstein retired after 30 years of dedication to the Temple. He became Rabbi Emeritus.

July, 2012: The Temple welcomed Rabbi Ari Rosenberg as its new spiritual leader and teacher.

July, 2015: The Temple welcomed Rabbi Renee Edelman as its new Rabbi. Rabbi Edelman was installed as its new Rabbi on Friday, October 23, 3015.