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Early History

Late 1975

Declaration of Principles signed by handful of families to establish a Tempe synagogue.

In late 1975 a few young families met to discuss the possibility of establishing a synagogue in Tempe. Many Jewish families with very young children were affiliated with JOT, the Jewish Organization of Tempe.  JOT had a preschool near the ASU campus and offered a summer program for older children.  While there were synagogues in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa with which many Tempe Jews were also affiliated, there wasn’t one in Tempe.  As the young children would soon need to begin their formal religious education, there was a strong desire to have a synagogue within their own community.  The group believed that if they could initially get 40 families to commit to a new synagogue, it could happen.

Late 1975-Early 1976

Steering Committee organized; framework for new synagogue initiated

A Steering Committee was organized in late 1975 to work on the Temple’s framework and programming while enlisting the requisite number of interested families.  Through word of mouth and a lot of phone calls to friends, relatives and neighbors it didn’t take long to reach the 40-family goal.

Steering Committee Members

  • Ted and Barbara Bantit
  • Mark and Shirley Cohen
  • Mike and Laurel Ginsburg
  • Jerry Hirsch and Karen (Hirsch) Shapiro
  • Craig and Helen Pearson
  • Larry and Evie Lieberman

April, 1976

First Congregational Meeting at (then) Christ Chapel United Methodist Church

In April 1976, the first community meeting was held at Christ Chapel United Methodist Church on Southern Avenue during which a name was chosen, task forces were organized, a religious school director was introduced, and reports were read concerning land that had been purchased by five of the original founding families, ideas for rabbi selection and thoughts for the synagogue’s religious character.   Over the summer an Executive Board was chosen.  By September, 57 students (K-8) were enrolled in Religious School; a Student Rabbi had been hired part-time for the year (June to June), and High Holidays Services were held at the Church of the Epiphany on Price Road.  In October, official Temple membership was 64 families.

June, 1976

Articles of Incorporation filed; Rabbi Gershon Blackmore hired for first year (part-time)

Articles of Incorporation Signers

  • Jerome Hirsch
  • Helen Pearson
  • Michael Ginsburg
  • Mark Cohen
  • Evelyn Lieberman
  • Ted Bantit

Summer, 1976

Five Tempe couples purchased land to hold as potential site for future synagogue

Land Donors

  • Jerome Hirsch
  • Karen Shapiro (formerly Karen Hirsch)
  • Allan J. Rothbart
  • Ellen Rothbart
  • Michael R. Geyser (z’l)
  • Joyce Geyser
  • Mark Cohen
  • Shirley Cohen
  • Howard B. Limmer
  • Miriam Limmer

September, 1976

First High Holiday Services held at the Church of the Epiphany in Tempe

October, 1976

64 dues paying families; 57 children enrolled in Religious School (K-8)

June, 1977

Marvin M. Reznikoff hired as first full-time Rabbi

Between 1977 and 1980 Temple membership increased to over 100 families

June, 1978

David Pinkwasser hired as Assistant Rabbi

December, 1978

First part of held land acquired for new building

March, 1979

Rabbi Reznikoff retired for medical reasons; Rabbi Pinkwasser becomes full-time Rabbi

April, 1979

Sign-raising on land for future building

December, 1979

Second part of held land acquired for new building

November, 1980

Groundbreaking for new building

Summer, 1981

First building completed

Funds were raised to erect the first building which was completed in the summer of 1981. It was dedicated as the Marvin M. Reznikoff building in August of that year.

Past Presidents

  • Evie Lieberman, 1976 - 1977
  • Alan Rothbart, 1977 - 1978
  • Jerry Hirsch, 1978 - 1979
  • Michael Ginsburg, 1979 - 1980
  • Herbert Fibel, 1980 - 1981
  • Shelley Stern, 1982 - 1983
  • Richard Glass, 1983 - 1984
  • Linda Offenberg, 1984 - 1985
  • Teri Krawitz, 1985 - 1986
  • Sandee McClelland, 1986 - 1987
  • Mary Ridberg, 1987 - 1988
  • Abbie Gregg, 1988 - 1990
  • Keith Frankel, 1990 - 1992
  • Rick Ridberg, 1992 - 1994
  • Linda Brickman, 1994 - 1996
  • Stefanie Cargill, 1996 - 1998
  • Brian Spector, 1998 - 2000
  • Sue Schwartz, 2000 - 2002
  • Ron Kossack, 2002 - 2004
  • Vivian Gealer, 2004 - 2006
  • Gregg Goodsell, 2006 - 2007
  • Sally Oscherwitz, 2007 - 2010
  • Susan Gordon Karesky, 2010 - 2012
  • Michael Waxman, 2012 - 2014
  • Howard Paley, 2014 - 2016
  • Chuck Gealer, 2016 - 2018
  • Cindy Weschrob, 2018 - 2020
  • Jennifer LeGrand, 2020 - 2022
Mon, October 25 2021 19 Cheshvan 5782