Today is October 21, 2019 -

Our History

Temple Israel was founded to fulfill a need of many Jewish Scrantonians who wanted a Conservative approach to their religious practices. These Jewish men and women wanted a more traditional approach to Judaism than had been practiced by the American Reform movement. They took steps to organize, and meeting as an official group at the Y.M.H.A. on July 14, ailment 1921. By August 11, order 1921, the group had named the newly formed synagogue “Temple Israel.” A building (a former church) was purchased with plans to remodel. During the last months of 1921, Rabbi Alfred H. Kahn was engaged as Rabbi. A. B. Cohen, a Scranton philanthropist, headed a committee to organize a Hebrew school and the newly formed Temple was granted a charter and constitution.

The following years saw change in the Temple organization. First, Mr. Saul Goldforb was Cantor, and in 1923, William S. Horn was named Cantor and teacher. Also, a new Rabbi, Max Arzt, was hired on January 15, 1924. With the growth of a larger membership, a new building became a necessity. Many fund-raising events were held in the community to offset the cost of both a new Temple edifice and a new Hebrew school, which already had four teachers, including Cantor Horn and Louis Wolf, a famous Jewish educator. The new building was to be built on the site of the older one. Albert Gottlieb and Louis Reisman, the latter a Scranton native, were hired as architects. The official “Laying of the Cornerstone” of the Temple took place on June 19, 1927.

The later years saw four other men hired as spiritual leaders in Temple Israel, Rabbi Arthur T. Buck in June, 1939, Rabbi Emeritus Dr. Simon H. Shoop in December, 1948; Rabbi Yaacov Rone in 1990, Rabbi David Geffen in 1993, Rabbi Joseph Mendelsohn in 2004, and our current leader, Rabbi Moshe Saks in 2012. While he has made Aliyah and resides in Jerusalem, Rabbi Geffen continues to serve as our Rabbi Emeritus.

Cantor William S. Horn retired in 1973. He was succeeded by several other Cantors until Cantor Marshall Wolkenstein was hired in 1988, and Cantor Vladimir Aronzon in 1999. Also, Cantor Wolkenstein continues to be an active member of our congregation and serves as Cantor Emeritus.

Temple Israel looks to its proud heritage of the past as a firm foundation to a strong future.