Significant Dates

In Congregation Gates of Heaven’s History and the Jewish Community: 

1840 –  Louis Jacobs – first known Jew in Schenectady

1848 –  Alexander Susholz and family settled in Schenectady followed by Jonathan Levi.

            Jonathan Levi purchased Cemetery land.

1854 –  Congregation Sharei Shomajim (Gates of Heaven) was established.

1856 –  October 20 – Sharei Shomajim was incorporated as first Congregation in Schenectady. Worship was at 6 Liberty Street. Originally the congregation was Orthodox and until 1880’s was the sole congregation in Schenectady. First Rabbi Moses Freidheimer.

1857 –  Cemetery Plot was sold for $55 for burial of Jacob Davis.

1862 –  First Constitution recorded.

1865 –  Congregation moved to 79 Ferry Street – building purchased for $1,455.

1882 –  First session of Religious School

1889 –  Agudat Achim formed.

1892 –  Congregation moved to 18 North College Street.

1897 –  Ladies Auxiliary (now Sisterhood) was formed.

1900 –  Congregation became Reform.

1907 –  May 12 – Congregation became affiliated with UAHC – Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

1915 –  Schenectady Young Men’s Hebrew Association formed

1916 –  Schenectady Young Women’s Hebrew Association formed

1920 –  Congregation moved to 1098 Parkwood Boulevard/Name changed to Temple Gates of Heaven

1922 –  United Hebrew Community (later Jewish Community Center) formed

1924 –  Brotherhood formed

1930 –  Temple membership doubled. Rabbi Gruber began teaching Hebrew and initiated Bar Mitzvah. First Temple Seder held – prepared by Ruth Wexler and Melva Lurie

1933 –  New JCC building on Germania Avenue

1952 –  Mr. & Mrs. Club formed – Charles and Billie (Hilda) Corman first presidents.

1954 –  Centennial celebration held

1953 –  Rabbi Klein resigned and Rabbi Goldstein is inaugurated. Membership soars to 195. Congregation takes title to 2 acre plot for construction of new building.

1954 –  October 3 – ground breaking ceremony for new Temple. Membership now 219. Temple TI’s was started? – Howard Tischler 1st President and Mrs. Bernard Golub advisor.

1955 –  Congregation moved to Eastern Parkway and Ashmore Avenue. Membership is now 247. Sunday school begins sessions in new building with one session. Schaffer Auditorium is dedicated. Temple TI’s are formed. Congregation Beth Israel is formed by merger. Constitution amended to increase Board members from 15 to 21.

1957 –  First Temple Bat Mitzvah – Sue Ellen Friedman, daughter of Eleanor and Arnold Friedman is held. Membership is now 315.

1958 –  Membership is now 328. Religious School now has two sessions.

1959 –  September – Rabbi Sidney Goldstein resigned and Rabbi Michael Szenes is elected.

1960 –  Lewis Lurie Lounge is dedicated.

1961 –  Social Action Committee, Adult Education Series and 1st Clergy Institute started by Rabbi Szenes

1962 –  Membership is now 354. Annual Meeting was changed from January to May. First Lulu Field Lecture (speaker – Maurice Samuels) was held. First Pulpit Exchange with First Formed Church.

1963 –  Sisterhood hold Art Show and Sale.

1964 –  110th Anniversary celebration honored past Temple presidents. Dedication of Shofar given by Mr. & Mrs. William Golub. Schaffer Windows given by Henry and Sally Schaffer and Harry and Bertha Schaffer are dedicated.

1967 –  Dr. Zelda Kaye, 1st Principal of our Religious School. New JCC opened.

1968 –  Membership Participation Committee formed. Rabbi Szenes appointed to Hillel Counselor at Union College.

1969 –  Harry Rosen appointed director of Jewish Education (full-time position) at Temple. Inman Road house purchased by synagogue for Rabbi Szenes. Kate Sternberg resigned as Office Manager after 13 years. Billie Corman begins as Office Manager.

1971 –  Shaul Baruch becomes 2nd full-time Director of Jewish Education. Temple Community Service Corps (local Peace Corps) formed by David Coplon.

1972 –  Temple Hanukkah party attracts over 500 people.

1973 –  Temple expands accommodations by adding the Sisterhood-David Hatkoff Room and additional classrooms downstairs.

1974 –  120th Anniversary celebrated. Temple Art Committee formed by Beatrice Albert. First Temple art exhibit in new Sisterhood-David Hatkoff Room by Graphic Artists. Temple Community Service Corps and Union College sponsor concert by Columbus Boys Choir “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” – songs and poems written in the concentration camps. August – Cantor Merrill Fisher became Principal and Cantor at Temple.

1975 –  Monthly Sabbath Eve Services held in homes of members in Clifton Park. Access 10-5-75 – Ramp by kitchen dedication in memory of Harriet Feigenheimer. Air conditioner was installed in Sanctuary.

1976 –  January 9 new prayer book introduced – Gates of Prayer (Shaarei Tefillah). Funeral services for congregation members now allowed in the synagogue. Taping for the Blind started by Sisterhood under co-chairmanship of Jill Paul and Evelyn Gipstein started. Saville organ installed – given in memory of Bernard Golub. April 11 Sisterhood tapestry is started by Sisterhood members with pattern designed by Dolores Bittleman.

1977 –  Home Study Group started. April 24 – Mixed and intermarriage discussion meeting at Rabbi’s house. Ann Stillman resigned as Office Manager.

1978 –  Chavurah groups formed by Billie and Charles Corman and Bea and Gerry Hahn. First Bulletin with advertisements is published. June – Chaim Gross Lithograph is commissioned with Dr. Jay and June Schechter, chairmen. 11-78 Mortgage Matching Campaign started. Temple Mini-Town Meeting started – Gerry Hahn, chair

1979 –  First Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah Class – 5/79 Albert Field Lecture started. April – Sacred Service – a musical tribute to the 125th Anniversary of the Temple by Garth Drozin was performed by Cornell Chorale and Cantor Fisher. Mayk – Celebration of 125th Anniversary with special school service and Dinner/Dance. June, 1979 Cantor Fisher resigned and Judith Morag is hired as Principal. Temple’s Social Action Committee and First Reformed Church co-sponsor Boat People – Indochinese families. Tai and Quang Huynh brothers were assisted with English, place to live and education.

1980 –  First Chavurah Service in the Round was held January 18. Brotherhood received award for outstanding programming from Achievements Awards Committee, National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods. November – Sisterhood Tapestry is dedicated.

1981 –  January – Guardian Committee established to secure additional financial support for the Temple. Temple dues put on Tru-Check Computerized system. April 18 – Dedication of Tree of Life sculpture donated by Mr. Harold H. Smerling, father of Janie Garnett. April – Bille Corman resigned after 11 years as Office Manager and Claudette Koza became Office Manager. Temple Endowment Fund established. May 5 – Special service honoring 25th Anniversary of Building was held.June 12 – Ernest Bloch’s “Avodat Hakodesh – Sacred Service” performed by Octavo Singers. First Dr. Ralph and Edna Marwill scholarships given to four Temple members: Mindy Fialkoff, Carl Kaplan, Ellen Madison and Lee Wasserman. December – Single Women in Sisterhood formed.

1982 –  Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church donated College Street cornerstone of old Temple to congregation and it has been moved to the Nusbaum Lobby. June – Sisterhood’s Sabbath Service “The Voices of Women” arranged by Ellen Blake and Lotte Swartz presented in December 19891 is being published by National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods. September – Burglar and Fire Alarm system is fully operative – donated by Brotherhood. Sisterhood renovated kitchen.

1983 –  January – 1st “Shabbaton” family retreat for Bar/Bat Mitzvah families started.   Torah Fund Drive started to honor Rabbi Szenes for his 25 years of Service and to establish a retirement fund. Sisterhood takes over Soup Kitchen once a month. May – 1st Garage Sale held by Ways and Means Committee. November – Concerned for the Hungry Food Drive initiated by Social Action Committee.

1984 – TI’s initiate mini-courses before meetings. March – 1st joint service of Reform Synagogues held at Beth Emeth. 1st SAYCOH (Social Action and Youth Committee on Hunger) formed. May – Torah Scroll donated in honor of Congregation’s Anniversary, Rabbi and Mignon Szenes’ 25 years of service and in memory of Bessie Kaplan. Octavo Singer perform Sacred Service. Temple Thespians formed and 1st performance is “A Szenes Simcha.” September – Rabbi Szenes gives last sermon and retired before High Holy Days. TI’s presented with Honor Award by National Federation of Temple Youth. Rabbi Bernard Bloom is installed at Temple as new Rabbi. November – Wine and Cheese Reception for young singles held at Bloom’s during Thanksgiving recess. December – 1st Board Retreat held.

1985 – March – First meeting of the Temple Leisure Group. 1st Black-Jewish Model Seder held at Temple. September – New High Holy Day prayer book “Gates of Repentance” used for first time. May -Temple Choir makes its’ premiere appearance at Friday Services. June – decision made that Confirmation will be held at the completion of 10th grade now instead of 9th.

1986 – September – Torah Study started with Rabbi Bloom on Saturdays. May -“Twinning” our Bar/Bat Mitzvah with a Russian Jewish child started. Dedication of Torah Crown and Breastplate in memory of Arnold J. Friedman.

1987 –  1st Interfaith Model Seder held at St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church. September – Clifton Park Midrasha started encompassing all high school kids. Temple Thespians presented Pajama Game.

1988 – February – Board honors Lewis Lurie with a Board meeting at the Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home. April – Administrative Wing Committee started. Temple installs a computer. May – Community Kallah program started. New Roof.

1989 –  May 26 – First Tot Shabbat started. Shula Neufeld becomes Temple Educator. Capital Improvement fund drive for new Administrative Wing.

1990 –  Niskayuna Community Day Care starts using our building. May 5 – First Cherry Blossom Crafts Festival held. June 15th – ground breaking ceremony for Administrative Wing. September – First Parent/Toddler Play Group meeting

1991 – June 7 – Estelle and William Golub Administrative Wing finished.

1992 –  Service honor Rabbi Michael M. Szenes’ 50th Anniversary of his rabbinic ordination is held. October – Voice of the Turtle concert is held.

1993 –  Sephardic Service held written by Hester Shapiro – First Leisure Club Pot Luck Dinner.

1994 –  Monthly Shabbat Morning Services started. Shabbat is Special – family program for preschoolers. April – First performance of Temple choir Kol Sason – Meris Ruzow Director. April 30 – Board of Advisors started.

1995 –  UAHC Fain Award given to Temple Community Service Corps – Social Action Committee project.

1996 –  First Sisterhood Soup Shabbat held. First Healing Service

1997 –  January – Board Retreat started. First Temple’s Distinguished Service Award given to Hester Shapiro. October – Two new funds established: Max Feldman Memorial Music Fund and David Hatkoff UAHC Summer Camp fund.

1998 –  January – First Bulletin preparation is done in house by staff..on computers. February – Gesher is started by Rabbi Cutler with Jacqueline Freedman as chair. April – Singer Family Music Recital Fund established. June – Shula Neufeld requests leave of absence for one year and Susan Katz Belasen appointed interim Principal of our Religious and Hebrew School. September – Temple now accepted credit cards for payment of dues. October – Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Cutler started. October 14 – First Singer Concert held. October – First Mitzvah Day, new project of Social Action Committee and chaired by Ray Benenson and Robert Ludwig. Fall – New “Tween program” for fourth and fifth grade classes.

1999 –  February – Congregational trip to Israel led by Rabbi Cutler. March – First annual Florence Stuempfle Memorial Blood Drive sponsored by Sisterhood. November – Classes started in Ready Hebrew America taught by Sue Belasen. Sofer (Torah) scribe Rabbi Digiliah Druin demonstrates his craft of repairing the Torah.

2000 –  January 21 – Temple honors Elinore Farnum, organist of Temple. Leadership Training Program started. New sound system donated by Harvey and Sheila Randall and temple Thespians.

2001 –  January – Brass Menorah donated by Paula and Sol Goldman. Board voted to create position of Executive Director. March – the UAHC Fain Award is given to Social Action Committee for the Pleasant Valley project. July – Gail Kendall, First Executive Director started. November – New front entrance construction started. December – Dedication of Donald E. Schein Resource Center in Lewis Lurie Library.

2002 –  Front entrance dedicated. February – Temple has web site. March – Kadosh Kids started. May 31 – first service honoring congregants 80 and over. June – Lee Brice becomes Education Director. July and August new summer hours for office closing at 12:00 p.m. on Fridays. Adult B’nai Mitzvah Classes begin. New High Holy Day Minhag. First Kabbalat Shabbat. CGOH selected to pilot Miskan T-filah.

2005 – The Torah – A Modern Commentary by Platt started to be used for the 1st time

            150 books paid by congregants with dedication by book plates in memory, in honor of , etc.