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1928 – 1973

 
 

From 1928 to 1973

Rabbi Fierman picked up the story begun by Rabbi Zielonka in a publication marking Temple's seventy-fifth anniversary...

The years 1928 to 1938, the year Rabbi Zielonka's death, saw El Paso decrease in population.  The economic depression adversely the Pass of the North and subsequently the size of the congregation members moved to the west in pursuit of better economic opportunities.

Rabbi Wendell Phillips succeeded Rabbi Zielonka in 1938, and he brought another orientation and new orientation and new strength to the congregation.  He was a disciple of Rabbi Stephen Wise and a former assistant to Rabbi Louis Newman of New York, both zealous Zionists.  Another specter was upon us.  The devastating era of Hitler and the Nazis threatening the free world.

Rabbi Phillips reacted with a strong Zionism and the urgency to rescue those of our brothers who were still alive.  This spirit gave the congregation and the Jews of El Paso vigor and a new outlook.

Rabbi Floyd S. Fierman was elected to the pulpit in 1949.  He, like Rabbi Zielonka, was a graduate of the Hebrew Union College.  Previous to this he was associated with Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  Fresh with a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh and new ideas, he and his family accepted the challenge and invitation to help lead Temple. Mt. Sinai.

From the time of Rabbi Phillips incumbency to the election of Rabbi Fierman there had been a slow movement toward more tradition in the religious service.  Rabbi Zielonka was a classical reform Rabbi.  Rabbi Phillips introduced the robe and the Tallit.  Under Dr. Fierman's influence, and with the hesitant acceptance of the Temple leadership, the Bar Mitzvah ceremony and a full Hebrew program in the Religious school were introduced.  Saturday morning services were now a regular practice and here some of the old line reform members like Lily Moye, Rose Potash, Ana Leib, Adalaide Ratner, Della Weinstein and Rae Gottlieb were instrumental in making up the minyan.

The first and last days of Sukkot and Passover were now observed.

A Yizkor service on the last days of these festivals became a part of the religious calendar.

In this new era interfaith activities were given a strong thrust.  In addition to Rabbi Fierman speaking in almost every historic church in the city, guest Rabbis addressed interfaith meetings: Ferdinand Isserman, Phillip Bernstein, Abraham Feldman, Felix A. Levy, Israel Bettan, David Jacobson,  Maurice Eisendrath, Roland Gittlesohn and Balfour Brickner spoke to the Christian community under the auspices The Sisterhood of Temple Mount Sinai.

Following the death of Rabbi Joseph Roth, department head of Philosophy at Texas Western College, Dr. Fierrman taught Philosophy at the Texas Western College for twelve years.  In this way he continued to touch life of the Non-Jew, particularly those of Latin American background.

Other visiting religious leaders form 1949 to the present who molded religious feeling and opinion and who spoke and led dialogues at the invitation of the Temple leadership, were Rabbis Robert Kahn, Levi Olan, Morton C. Fierman, Edgar Magnin, Albert Lewis, Erwin Herman, David Shor, Albert T. Bilgray, Alfred Wolf, Joseph Messing, Perry Nussbaum, Sam Silver, Daivd Zielonka, Daniel J. Silver, Albert Minda, Norman Goldburg and educators, Libbie Braverman and Albert Vorspan.

In effort to broaden the congregational base the Men's Club was reorganized in 1949 and Harry C. Talpis was its first president.  Since then the club has been an important arm of Temple life.

The annual Men's retreat in Ruidoso, New Mexico with Temple Albert of Albuquerque has been a highlight in the Brotherhood program for over ten years.

Last summer the Men's Club helped sponsor fifteen confirmands to Israel on a study tour.  Charles Fruithandler, a past president of the club and a member of the Board of Trustees, was the driving force behind this project.

The Sisterhood, uninterrupted in activity, has a labored in behalf of the Temple religious school and Youth Groups from the day that Temple was organized.

The Sisterhood, Men's Club and Board of Trustees make from nine to eleven camperships available each year to our youth group members.  Young people are sent to Camp Swig in Northern California, Hess Kramer in Southern California, and Warwick in New York

In 1952, Elias G. Krupp, Ervin H. Schwartz, Irving Schwartz, Luis Zork, Harry Talpis, Sidney Mayer, Jerry Harris, Herbert Given, I.J. Kahn and Melvin Potash were foresighted enough to concur that a new Temple structure was needed.  Mobilizing the Temple membership these men and others saw the New Temple Mount Sinai dedicated in 1962.

In 1971 during the administration of Edward F. Schwartz the mortgage of the Temple was retired and now one of the most beautiful religious buildings in America, designed by Sidney Eisenshtat of Los Angeles, graces our community.

In 1966, during the administration of Bernard S. Lauterbach, Rabbi Fierman was given life tenure. 

The history of Temple Mount Sinai is the continuous dedication of its membership.  There are many whose contributions to its continuous growth and welfare cannot be recorded in this synopsis.  The Haymon Krupp chapel, a bequest of Rebecca G. Krupp in memory of her husband dedicated in 1965, is but one of many significant memorials.