Under the leadership of outstanding clergy including Rabbi Annie Tucker; Rabbi Adir Yolkut; Cantor Rabbi Levin Goldberg; Rabbi Emeritus Gordon Tucker; and Cantor Emeritus Jack Mendelson, we have grown to be a vibrant community of active and engaged members spanning multiple generations.
We are intellectual, social, spiritual, and musical. Our community values life-long learning and seeks meaningful growth opportunities for congregants of all ages, abilities, and levels of observance in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Our services are highly participatory and we often have multiple prayer experiences on any given Shabbat. Although we are a large congregation, people find their niche through affinity groups, volunteering, and caring for those in need both within our community and beyond.
We are inclusive. As one of the few synagogues nation-wide to engage a Director of Inclusion, we aspire to make every individual and family in our community feel welcome and able to participate fully in all aspects of synagogue life. We are advocates of LGBTQ inclusion, our clergy and educators work with learners across a spectrum of learning differences, and parents created a grass-roots initiative to support each other while raising children with special needs, through age 17. Our congregation welcomes families of all shapes and sizes, including interfaith families, and we strive to include non-Jewish partners and other relatives to the fullest extent possible under the parameters of halakha (Jewish law). These are just some of the many ways that we aim to provide expanded possibilities for engagement within the Temple Israel Center community.
We are strong advocates for the State of Israel. Learning about Israel is a central part of our educational program, and we regularly bring Israeli rabbis and scholars to help promote dialogue between Israel and the Diaspora. We run frequent congregational trips, raise money to support Israeli institutions, and celebrate holidays such as Yom HaAtzama’ut (Israel’s Independence Day) and Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) with great feeling. Our members are involved in a wide range of organizations that advocate for the State of Israel in different ways. While we are a congregation with diverse political views, a commitment to the State of Israel’s fundamental right to exist and to protect herself underscores everything that we do.
There is a unique relationship among the five synagogues of White Plains. We are lucky to be located within such a vibrant Jewish community. Our very own neighborhood enjoys a collaborative and supportive network of synagogues of various denominations, all within walking distance of each other: Bet Am Shalom, Congregation Kol Ami, Hebrew Institute, and Young Israel of White Plains.
The strength of Temple Israel Center’s community was built over time. Originally, in 1907, a group of families formally brought the White Plains Jewish community together under the name Sons of Israel. By 1911, the community had dedicated its first synagogue building on Fisher Avenue in White Plains, NY and changed its name to Temple Israel. The building seated 350 people in its sanctuary. The community grew and by 1935, the building was expanded. By 1947, a successful fundraising campaign made it possible to purchase land and build the first two of three wings of a new synagogue on our present location at Old Mamaroneck Road and Miles Avenue. After several renovations over the years, we now have our beautiful Milstein Sanctuary, which seats over 500 and our newly refreshed Irene Schwebel Chapel, which is home to our twice daily minyanim and is used for smaller religious functions and services.
We are forward looking. We strive to evolve, learn, and grow all the time. We are not afraid to experiment and innovate. We believe that relationships are the heart of our congregation and seek to help each and every member find a rich sense of belonging here. We know that in order to compete with the demands of the over-programmed world, we must make our tradition dynamic, relevant, and deeply meaningful.