Congregation Sons of Israel was founded in 1928 and held its first High Holiday services at the local Woodmere Fire House. The first synagogue building was erected in 1933, followed by a Youth Center in 1935, largely due to the financial support of several devoted members. As the community grew, so did the synagogue. From the start, the synagogue's focus was on Jewish education for the throngs of young families and children that were settling in this growing area of Long Island. As a result, a Hebrew School was immediately established to serve their needs and today stands as one of Congregation Sons of Israel's proudest contributions to the community.
Over the years, the congregation has been served by distinguished Rabbis: Rabbi David Rubin (1932-1942,), Rabbi Elias Blackowitz (1942-1946), Rabbi Irving Miller (1946-1963), Rabbi Saul Teplitz (1963-1991). We are honored to have Rabbi Dr. Bruce Ginsburg currently serving our congregation, whose teaching and leadership have contributed to a vibrant and growing synagogue membership.
A Traditional Conservative Synagogue. Congregation Sons of Israel holds a unique place in Jewish life in Woodmere and the Five Towns area. From its inception, the congregation has strived to embrace the diverse spiritual and social needs of its community. Congregation Sons of Israel reaches out to families, couples, singles, young and old who think traditional Jewish values have retained their relevance to modern life and believe that secular concerns can coexist comfortably with religious ideals. Our synagogue is dedicated to enriching the religious, educational, and social experience of its members.
Rabbi Bruce Ginsburg assumed the pulpit at Congregation Sons of Israel in 1991. A product of Boston University, New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, and Jerusalem's Hebrew University, he holds a doctorate in Hebrew literature. Known for his decades-old activism on behalf of Israel, Soviet Jewry, and intra/interfaith cooperation, he has served both as president of the Long Island Board of Rabbis and as president of the Union for Traditional Judaism. His essays have appeared in Newsday, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jerusalem Report, and other publications.
Cantor Moshe Weiss, an experienced and accomplished cantor, earned his 'degree' in chazzonus the old fashioned way: as a young boy, while still serving as an alto soloist with the famed Jacob Goldstein choir, he apprentice-trained with Cantor Leible Waldman, one of the last cantors of that period known as the "golden age of chazzanut." In his teens, he studied voice with Avshalom Zfira, and nusach and recitative with Cantors Macy Nullman, Noach Schall, and David Koussevitzky. Though he fine-tuned his craft through formal study, Cantor Weiss came to chazzonus by virtue of lineage as well: his maternal grandfather, obm, whose name he bears, served as staat chazzan of Rachav, Czechoslovakia.
A staunch proponent of maintaining traditional nusach haT'filah, Cantor Weiss has lectured and written on this and other subjects related to Jewish music. In addition to his role on the bima, he has successfully prepared many students who have gone on to serve as sh'lichei tzibbur themselves.
The art of t'filah b'tzibbur has changed dramatically from days of yore. By his synthesis of age-old liturgical modes and contemporary participatory congregational melodies, Chazzan Weiss presents a rendition of t'filah which is rooted in the past, speaks to the present, and will help ensure the future of synagogue prayer.
It is our pleasure to welcome Cantor Moshe Weiss to the Congregation Sons of Israel family!
Harriet Gefen began her association with Congregation Sons of Israel in 1987 as Educational Director of the synagogue and assumed the additional position of Executive Director in 1997. A graduate of Columbia University, Barnard College, Harriet holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Education, NYS and NYC teachers licenses as well as a permanent principal’s license from the Board of Jewish Education. She earned a Masters of Education degree in Mental Health and School Counseling from Queens College and is a fellow of the Jewish Educators Assembly. She serves on the executive board of the Conservative Principals Council.
In her capacity as Educational/Executive Director, she has introduced a number of innovative and creative programs including Mechina Hebrew School classes for 4-7 year olds, Mommy and Me and Summer camp Nursery programs, Ganoni - Hebrew immersion Pre-school program for 18 month olds - 4 year olds, Shalhevet - Religious School program for Israeli Hebrew speaking children and Kesher Hebrew High School. Harriet was the founder of the community supported Sulam-LI- The Religious School for Jewish Children with Special Needs which is housed at The Friedberg JCC in Oceanside. Contact Harriet Gefen at: Hagefencsoi@aol.com Phone: 516 374-0655
Dr. Mark Kavarsky - President
Valerie Lager - Chairperson of the Board
Beth Berman - Vice Chairperson
Warren Prosky - First Vice President
David Hirsh - Second Vice President
Mara Kostovetsky - Third Vice President
Howard Brenner - Treasurer
Randy Alpert - Financial Secretary
Maddi Lavin - Recording Secretary
Arnold Gordon - Exec. Comm. Chairperson