Brief Temple History

HISTORY—Sinai Temple began as The Champaign-Urbana Hebrew Congregation on February 7, 1904. In April of 1905, the Jewish Ladies Social Circle (founded in 1894 and disbanded in 1943) instituted Sabbath School. The first community seder was organized in 1907 by Hannah Berolzheimer, an early director of the school.

On January 4, 1914, the congregation changed its name to Sinai Temple and affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).

In 1913, the congregation purchased a lot at the southwest corner of State and Clark Streets in Champaign, and on January 31, 1918, the first permanent Jewish house of worship, Sinai Temple, was dedicated. Like most new congregations, Sinai Temple depended on student and visiting rabbis for many years

jfksacharsmBenjamin Frankel, director of the new chapter of Hillel Foundation at the University of Illinois, became the first permanent (though part-time) rabbi for Sinai Temple in 1923. Just 6 years later, at the age of 30, Rabbi Frankel died. Dr. Abram Sachar, a professor at the U. of I., took over as national and local director of Hillel and as part-time religious leader of Sinai Temple. Serving in these capacities until 1947, Dr. Sachar went on to become president of Brandeis University in 1968, where he remained for 20 years. (Photo above: John F. Kennedy, Dr. Sachar, and Eleanor Roosevelt.)

In 1971 the original Sinai Temple was partially destroyed by fire and the congregation moved into its new building on Windsor Road in 1975.