The word “WE” is at the heart of West End Temple, a synagogue in Neponsit, New York, which serves the Rockaways, Southern Queens, Southern Brooklyn, and beyond. We seek to build a sacred community where we practice a compelling and relevant Judaism that provides meaning and joy in our lives, both for our current members and for those who seek a synagogue to call home. We provide many ways to connect to Judaism and affirm the various paths towards that connection: spirituality, Torah learning, social action, culture, Shabbat and holiday celebration, life cycle rituals, youth programming, and simply lovingly supporting one another through life’s ups and downs. We welcome the full participation of all who seek a Jewish community, including people of color, interfaith families, Jews by Choice, LGBTQIA+ individuals and families, and those differently-abled. In addition, we provide vital programs such as Universal PreK, various sports opportunities, and other services, through which we aim to strengthen our local community.
West End Temple-Sinai Congregation was founded in the summer of 1939. Our first High Holy Day services were held that September and were led by Rabbi Emanuel Schenk.
In those first years, services were held in the old Seville Hotel on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and, later, in the upstairs room in the Park Theatre on Beach 116 Street. The temple’s current location was once a property known as the Mandel Mansion, which the congregation purchased at auction in the late 1940s. As the congregation increased in number, it outgrew the Mansion. The building that stands today was constructed in 1954.
For over 50 years, our temple was led by Rabbi Joseph Weiss and served as the central address for liberal Jewish life, learning and observance on the Rockaway Peninsula. Following Rabbi Weiss’s retirement, our temple was led by Rabbi Marjorie Slome, who strengthened our community and ensured our survival and recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In 2021, West End Temple welcomed Rabbi Rebecca Epstein, who has aimed to build upon our strong foundations by bringing a vision of a compelling and vibrant Judaism rooted in the concept of ‘sacred community.’
West End Temple is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism which represents more than 900 congregations in North America Reform Judaism has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, embrace diversity while asserting commonality, affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt, and has brought faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.
For over 77 years, we have been a vital and valued institution in the Rockaway community. West End Temple has and continues to educate both the young and old about Jewish history, culture, and living. We have a time-honored commitment to interfaith dialogue and activities on the peninsula. We commit our time and resources to the promotion of social justice and Jewish learning and we are honored to be a trusted source to countless families when they select our preschool as the learning and loving environment they want for their children.
As we build our future, we invite you to join us in our journey! What will your voice add to our story?