Temple Sinai in Newport News named to Virginia Historic Register

by | Apr 3, 2015 | Other News

Home of the only established Reform Jewish congregation on the Peninsula, Temple Sinai has been added to the Virginia Historic Register.

At a joint meeting of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources State Review Board and the Board of Historic Resources, the decision was made on Thursday, March 19 to place Temple Sinai on the Register for ethnic heritage and architectural significance.

Completed in 1960 as a home for the then five-year-old congregation, Temple Sinai is the work of architect Edward Loewenstein of Greensboro, N.C. Loewenstein designed 1,600 buildings, 500 of which were residences. Temple Sinai is one of only 25 designed in a modernistic style. The building features a sloping roof, representing Noah’s Ark, and a sanctuary with a soaring open space meant to illustrate the link between man and God.

Over the years, Temple Sinai has added a number of other significant features including a Biblical Garden and Women of the Bible stained glass windows. Two of the Temple’s three Torah scrolls are also of historic significance. One dates from 18th century Morocco, the other was completed in Jerusalem in 1903.

Temple members June and John Mellman prepared the extensive application, compiling pictures, maps and reports, as well as speaking to members of the early days of the congregation. Their research included a trip to Greensboro to speak to some of Loewenstein’s associates.

Temple Sinai’s application will now be sent on to the National Park Service as a candidate for the National Register of Historic Places.

Temple Sinai is located in Newport News at 11620 Warwick Blvd. The congregation celebrates its 60th anniversary in June.