Nearly 60 years after leaving Ohef Sholom Temple, Temple Sinai returned, merging the two congregations during a multi-faceted day of ceremony, service and celebration on Sunday, June 3.
The morning began in Portsmouth at Temple Sinai. In noting that rabbinic literature “is relatively silent regarding the closing of a house of worship,” Rabbi Arthur Steinberg said, “where such commentary does exist, the message wastes no words. The building is unimportant. Of sole significance is the congregation gathered within the walls of the building. Their devotion to the precepts of their faith and, therefore, their behavior once outside its walls, is all that counts.”
Michael Blachman and Richard Rivin, sons of founding members and past presidents themselves, carried the congregation’s torahs out of the sanctuary and then began a policeescorted trip to their new home on Stockley Gardens in Ghent. Ramps to the Interstate were closed for the procession, which included a bus filled with congregants, as well as many other vehicles.
Standing on the front steps of Ohef Sholom, waiting for Temple Sinai’s arrival, were members of their new congregational family.
Before the torahs were carried under a chupah into the building, Marty Einhorn sounded the shofar for all of Stockley Gardens to hear (and there were plenty of neighbors watching). As the torahs, the chupah, Rabbi Steinberg and Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg and Cantor Wally Schachet- Briskin entered the building, all assembled sang Shalom Aleichem and followed.
The group proceeded through the sanctuary and into the chapel, which quickly filled beyond capacity. In a brief service, the torahs were placed in the ark, the new members were welcomed to Ohef Sholom and the chapel was dedicated as the Sinai Chapel.
Bonnie Kerner, Temple Sinai president, said “the founders, board of directors and congregation of Temple Sinai are gratified that the Sinai Chapel will always be a reminder of, and a tribute to, the beautiful congregation created in 1953, and nurtured for the past 32 years by Rabbi Steinberg.
“As I look at the Rivins, Blachmans, and Brenners and think of the others, who essentially founded Temple Sinai, I feel we have delivered their creation into a safe and successful future. We should all be proud.”
During the luncheon reception, the mood was lively with a sense of history in the air as members met, and, in many cases, visited as old friends.
by Terri Denison