Longboat Key, Florida
On December 2, 1979, a small number of Jewish families met in a living room to light the spark that would kindle the light of Judaism on Longboat Key. That light would grow and become Temple Beth Israel. With the guidance of retired Rabbi Albert Shulman of South Bend Indiana, the group met first in homes and then in the community room of the Coast Savings Bank, now Sun Bank, just down the street from our present location on Bay Isles Road.
As our numbers grew, we moved to the social hall of St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church on Gulf of Mexico Drive. We soon needed a rabbi to fulfill the needs of a growing congregation and invited Rabbi Philip Frankel, Rabbi Emeritus of Lansing Michigan, to be our rabbi five months each year.
In 1985, the time had come to erect our own home. The generosity of our members exceeded expectations and our new synagogue was built without any future encumbrances.
When Rabbi Frankel retired, we were fortunate in being able to bring Rabbi Sanford Saperstein, Rabbi Emeritus of Merrick, New York to become our rabbi on a Rosh Hashanah to Shavuout schedule. We then expanded our Social Hall and built our library, Meeting Room, Choir Room and Gift Shop. Following Rabbi Sapersteins's retirement, Rabbi Robert Shapiro became our Rabbi from 1995-1997.
The Congregation then determined that it needed a non-retired full-time rabbi. After a careful search, Rabbi Michael B. Eisenstat was invited to become its spiritual leader. Rabbi Eisenstat served congregations in Huntsville Alabama, Coral Gables and Hollywood Florida before becoming Rabbi of Temple Beth Israel.
In 2001, we again expanded our facilities, to provide
even more meeting and activity rooms to satisfy the needs of our committees
and classes. The Gift Shop expanded again, as did the Choir Room.
In 2008, Rabbi Eisenstat became our Rabbi Emeritus, and Rabbi Jonathan Katz became Rabbi of the congregation.
Last updated September 25, 2008
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