Supriya Ghosh

Temple Israel (Westport, Connecticut)

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Ecclesiastical or organizational status  Synagogue
Completed  1959
Phone  +1 203-227-1293
Status  Active
Architectural type  Synagogue
Opened  1959
Affiliation  Reform Judaism
Location  14 Coleytown Road, Westport, Connecticut,  United States
Address  14 Coleytown Rd, Westport, CT 06880, USA
Similar  Sherith Israel Temple, Compo Beach, Congregation B'nai Israel - Bridgeport, Temple Israel of the City of Ne, Westport Historical Society

Temple Israel is a reform Jewish synagogue located in Westport, Connecticut. It was established in 1948. Currently, about 700 families are members of the community.



The congregation was founded in 1948. The temple was dedicated in May 1959.

Throughout the 1960s, under the leadership of Byron T. Rubenstein, Temple Israel became a hotbed of social change and activism, with speakers including James Baldwin, Margaret Mead and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.. In 1964, Rabbi Rubenstein protested as part of the St. Augustine movement, and was arrested along with 16 other Jewish leaders. This was the single largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history.

The synagogue was substantially renovated and expanded in 1990, more than doubling the capacity of the sanctuary. In 2002-2003, another expansion of the temple substantially expanded the religious school wing, which houses the Leo and Libby Nevas Religious School and the pre-school program.

In 2012, the temple board simultaneously announced the retirement of Rabbi Robert Orkand and Cantor Richard Silverman, as well as the departure of Associate Rabbi Alysa Mendelson Graf, Cantor Scott Harris, and Executive Director Sandy Silverstein. This wholesale staff shakeup, particularly the choice to let Rabbi Mendelson and Cantor Harris go, caused considerable controversy within the congregation. Eventually, this pressure led to the board's decision to offer an ultimately rejected extension contract to Rabbi Mendelson.

On May 12, 2015, two protesters entered Temple Israel with the intent to disrupt a luncheon. Initial reports that they were armed led to lockdowns at the temple's pre-school, as well as the nearby Coleytown Elementary and Middle Schools and the pre-school at the Unitarian Church. The protesters were arrested and charged with criminal trespass and breach of peace.


Executive Director: Lisa Goldberg, 2012 - present

Former Executive Directors

  • Sandy Silverstein 2001-2012
  • Current Board President: Gary Schanzer

    Immediate Past President: Steven Phillips



    Current Senior Rabbi: Rabbi Michael S. Friedman, 2014-present

    Former Senior Rabbis

  • Rabbi Byron T. Rubenstein (1959-1982), notably a friend of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., a participant in the June 1964 St. Augustine movement, and a subsequent arrestee along with 16 other Jewish leaders in the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history
  • Rabbi Robert Orkand (1982-2013), former president of ARZA (2008-2012)
  • Rabbi Rick Shapiro (June 2013-September 2014), Interim Senior Rabbi during the search process
  • Current Assistant Rabbi: Rabbi P.J. Schwartz, 2013 - present

    Notable Former Associate and Assistant Rabbis

  • Rabbi Jonah Pesner (1997-1999), current Director of the RAC and Senior Vice President of the URJ
  • Rabbi Alysa Mendelson Graf (2004-2013), longest serving assistant or associate rabbi in Temple Israel's history and current Rabbi of the Port Jewish Center in Port Washington, New York
  • Cantors

    Current Cantor: Cantor Dan Sklar 2012-present

    Former Cantors

  • Cantor Vicki Axe (1984-1988)
  • Cantor Richard Silverman (1988-2012), composer of common Reform melodies for passages and prayers including Tree of Life/Etz Chaim and Mi Chamocha
  • Services

    Temple Israel provides a variety of meaningful opportunities for prayer, study including an early childhood program, religious school and community events.


    Temple Israel (Westport, Connecticut) Wikipedia

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