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Temple Beth Elohim Open House

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In the early spring of 1955, 18 families assembled in Plainview to establish a Reform congregation. Temple Beth Elohim of Brooklyn donated a Torah to this group, a Torah which had been smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Poland. In gratitude, this new congregation named itself Temple Beth Elohim.

Temple Beth Elohim’s first service was held in March of 1955 at the Plainview Methodist Church with the assistance of a Cantor and a Choir from the North Shore Synagogue. During June 1955, Temple Beth Elohim held its first annual meeting, elected officers and trustees and adopted a constitution. A rabbinical student, Louis Stein, was selected from among the student candidates to be our first Rabbi. Rabbi Stein continued to lead our congregation for the next 40 years.

In the latter part of 1955, Temple Beth Elohim purchased a parcel of land in Old Bethpage, NY. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations financed a loan and each member signed a personal note to secure it. A small sales office building was purchased from a real estate developer and set up on concrete blocks. Temple members built an ark, the lectern, tables and benches. They also dug the water main trench and installed insulation under the floor.

By December 1956 the new building was ready for dedication. The Religious School met there and was soon bursting at the seams. Classes were held on Saturdays and Sundays; the largest of the three classrooms housed two classes at one time. By the end of 1957, the small house on our current property had proved itself to be inadequate to house both the synagogue and school. Temple Beth Elohim’s first Confirmation service took place on June 14, 1959.

A formal ground-breaking ceremony was held for Temple Beth Elohim during July 1959, followed by the creation of an A-frame area, which still constitutes the sanctuary and entry foyer today. In 1960, the core of the present building was constructed and consisted of a chapel, planter area, kitchen and classrooms. In 1964, additional classrooms, a multi-purpose room were added, and the Bema was dedicated.

In March of 1971, Temple Beth Elohim dedicated another building expansion. The social hall was added to the chapel and permanent pews arrived soon thereafter. Additional classrooms were again added.

In June of 1995, Rabbi Stein retired after 40 years of dedicated service. In June of 1999, the Temple hired our first full time Cantor, Rich Pilatsky.

Rabbi Michael Churgel joined our Temple in July 2008. A specialist in Jewish Education, Rabbi Churgel had previously served in pulpits in California, Brooklyn and Bay Shore Long Island.

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