History of our legacy congregations: Temple Judea and The Suburban Temple
The 1950s were an awesome period for the Jewish communities on the south east shores of Nassau County. There was a great influx of Jewish folk from Brooklyn, The Bronx and other areas of New York City. Most of the newcomers came from orthodox and conservative backgrounds. Many of them discovered that they preferred something different….and established Reform congregations.
In Wantagh and Massapequa, The Suburban Temple and The Massapequa Jewish Center (changed to Temple Judea in 1970) were created. Their histories were remarkably alike….
Both temples experienced great growth in the early years. Both Temples had a series of part-time rabbis. In 1958 Rabbi Harold Krantzler and in 1962 Rabbi Robert Raab were installed as the full-time religious leaders of Temple Judea and The Suburban Temple, respectively. At the time of transition, Rabbi Michael Kramer and Rabbi Jeffrey Gale were the full time religious leaders.
Both temples started building their facilities with great caution, but as the population of the towns grew so did membership and the buildings increased in size. Both temples held High Holy Day Services in tents during their construction periods. Both temples had policies which discouraged the wearing of a tallit or a yarmulke in the Sanctuary. Education and youth were always primary concerns for both Temples. The Religious Schools and Youth Groups were amongst the best on Long Island.
There was always something for everyone who joined the Temples….whether for religious purposes or social reasons.
Brotherhood and Sisterhood were extremely active in fund raising and created exciting, exhilarating and fun-filled events. Over the years, both Temples put on highly professional and extremely successful plays. “The King and I”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Pajama Game”, “Carousel”, “A Majority of One” and “Music Man” are among the most memorable presentations.
During the Seven Day War and the Yom Kippur War, special services were called. A huge turnout from the entire community resulted in a voluntary outpouring of funds to help support Israel. Similar reactions occurred when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when Dr. Martin Luther King died and when the Israeli athletes were massacred at the Olympics. Within hours, the Temples were filled to the point of bursting. Congregants always found a home at their respective Temples in times of need.
Music has always been a special delight at both Temples. Judea had Cantor Robert Applestone from 1959 to 1994. His rich voice charmed the congregation and was supported regularly by the Judea Adult Choir. Cantor Walter Lewis served Suburban for 18 years. Under his able tutelage, the Youth Choir as well as the Adult Choir were established.
In recent years, it became obvious that the Jewish population was decreasing in Nassau County. With seven synagogues in the area, it became more and more difficult to maintain a successful operation. The leadership of The Suburban Temple and Temple Judea met, “hit it off”, and came to realize that it was in the best interest of the Jewish community to combine the two Temples and create a stronger Jewish presence in the area.
And so a new temple was formed….TEMPLE B’NAI TORAH…..a blending of the best of both worlds…Temple Judea and The Suburban Temple.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam,
shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’kigianu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, sovereign of all,
for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.