Temple Beth Sholom is the largest and oldest Reform Synagogue on Miami Beach, Florida, with 1210 member households. Temple Beth Sholom is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism and in the mainstream of liberal Judaism.
The Beth Sholom Jewish Center was started by Abraham Zinnamon and Benjamin Appel. After seeing a Yiddish newspaper in Appel's hands, Zinnamon approached him with the idea of forming a Jewish Center. They put together a group of people for the first founders' meeting of Beth Sholom Center, which took place on April 6, 1942. On June 3 of that same year, a building at 761 41st Street was leased.
A charter of the State of Florida was granted shortly thereafter. Rabbi Samuel Machtai, the "Radio Rabbi", conducted the first High Holy Days Services in 1942. The service was held in a storefront, where 20 Miami Beach Jewish families gathered to provide a house of worship for themselves and for Jewish servicemen. Two years later, the Beth Sholom Jewish Center decided to hire a full-time rabbi. On August 9, 1944, at the 36th meeting of the board of directors, held in the home of its chairman, Charles Tobin, it was decided to employ Rabbi Leon Kronish to serve as the center's spiritual leader. Rabbi Kronish was installed by Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise, President of New York's Jewish Institute of Religion, in the North Beach Elementary School auditorium.
To begin to build a Congregation, Rabbi Kronish went from house to house knocking on doors and wherever he saw a mezuzah, he invited the family to join the new synagogue. On April 24, 1945, the by-laws were changed and a resolution was passed to amend the Charter of Beth Sholom Center, to rename the nonprofit organization Temple Beth Sholom. The next home of the Temple was a two-story, dilapidated house called the Chase Avenue Hotel at 4141 Chase Avenue. The growing Congregation acquired the building and had it remodeled. The membership grew from 40 households to more than 750 by 1955 and by the late 1960s included more than 1200 families. The Temple has grown, from what was called the laundry building or the horse stable, to where it currently stands that one the corner of Chase Avenue and Arthur Godfrey Road. In 1956, the sanctuary and banquet hall were built and designed by architect Percival Goodman; in 1961, the religious school and auditorium were added; in 1984, the school was refurbished and the administrative wing was completed. In 2003, the school building was refurbished once again, and we are now completing a brand new two story facility which includes Youth Center, offices, Chapel, Welcome Center, classrooms, meeting spaces and art gallery. The Temple is also surrounded by outdoor spaces including play areas, meditation garden and palm plaza.
In 1967, the Temple began its development as a cultural center of the greater Miami area, in keeping with Rabbi Kronish's vision of the Temple as a place for community as well as worship. In 1969, Rabbi Harry Jolt, zecher tzadik livracha, who had recently retired from his pulpit in Ventnor, New Jersey, was asked by Rabbi Kronish to become Auxiliary Rabbi and assist in the cultural and adult education programs of the Temple. His death, at age 97, was a deep loss for the congregation.
Rabbi Kronish's loving devotion to the State of Israel was exemplified through his involvement in Federation, Israel Histradruth, American Jewish Congress and the Israel Bonds National Leadership. He was one of the leaders in World Jewry and with his family's move from Poland, a first generation American Jew. The Confirmation Class has journeyed on a pilgrimage to Israel every year, a program that Rabbi Kronish initiated. Reaching beyond Jewish borders, the Congregation has also been deeply involved in the civil rights movement and in fighting world hunger. Rabbi Kronish's death in 1996 officially ended the first era of Temple Beth Sholom's history.
In 1985, the temple engaged Gary Glickstein, a young scholar who had served as rabbi of Temple Sinai in Worcester, Massachusetts since 1977 to serve as Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Glickstein's serves on the advisory board of the Greater Miami Coalition for a Drug Free Community, was past Chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Jewish Studies at Barry University, and has served as vice chairman of the Miami Mission 1000 and Mega Mission Two. He is a past President of the Rabbinic Association of Greater Miami. Nationally, he was Chairman of the UJA National Rabbinic Cabinet, past Chair of the National Rabbinic Cabinet of Israel Bonds and past Treasurer of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He is presently Co-Chair of the Synagogue/Federation Relations Committee of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.1944–1984: Rabbi Leon Kronish
1985–present: Rabbi Gary A. Glickstein
1987–1994: Rabbi Jason Gwasdof
1994–present: Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz
1995–present: Rabbi Robert A. Davis, D.Min.
2011-present: Rabbi Amy Morrison
Rabbi Harry Jolt
Rabbi Paul Kaplan
1944–1957: Cantor Sam Kellemer
1957–present (emeritus): Cantor David Conviser
1989–present (emeritus): Cantor Steven Haas
2014–present: Cantor Lisa Segal