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CEDAR SINAI SYNAGOGUE HISTORY 1899 - Today

Cleveland's Jewish history is written in large part by the experiences of the three original synagogues that comprise our congregation. Each met the needs of diverse immigrant groups settled in different areas of this city.

Warrensville Center Synagogue fulfilled the dreams of several diverse local Orthodox congregations who joined forces to build a thriving congregation as Cleveland’s Jews moved from the city neighborhoods to the eastern suburbs.

In the beginning of the 20th century, various groups of Eastern European immigrants made their way to Cleveland’s near east side. They established congregations, including the Tetiever Ahavath Achim Anshe Sfard Congregation, founded by Jews fleeing hardship and persecution in the Ukrainian town of Tetiev.

In the late 1950s, the Tetievers built a new synagogue on Warrensville Center Road near Mayfield Road. They merged with the Kinsman Jewish Center and N’Vai Zedek to form Warrensville Center Synagogue. Rabbi Jacob Muskin, the Kinsman Jewish Center’s charismatic young rabbi, became the spiritual leader of the newly formed congregation.

Warrensville Center Synagogue grew to over 1,000 families, and offered a rich synagogue life to its members, including a full social calendar, religious school and adult education opportunities. The congregation also attracted many Holocaust survivors who added their own customs and flavor to the synagogue family. In 1990, following the death of Rabbi Muskin who had served the shul for 40 years, the shul adopted the name Kehillat Yaakov to honor his memory.

In 2004, the leadership of Warrensville Center Synagogue recognized that its location was no longer at the heart of Cleveland’s vibrant modern Orthodox community. Through the lead gifts of Alvin and Laura Siegal, Stanley Knapp and Frances Senser, Lester Tavens and the family of long-time benefactor Carl Milstein, the synagogue was able to obtain property on Cedar Road. The new building opened September 2008. Rabbi Zachary Truboff was engaged as the synagogue’s spiritual leader. Marking the beginning of the synagogue’s renewal.

In 2011, a merger was completed with Sinai Synagogue to form the combined Cedar Sinai Synagogue. Sinai Synagogue was originally established in 1899 as Beth Hamedrosh Anshei Galicia on Bryant Avenue at 105th Street until 1952 when the congregation purchased the Messiah Lutheran Church facility located at Desota and Berkeley Avenues in Cleveland Heights.

In 1962, Rabbi Isidore Pickholtz, who moved to Cleveland from Boston with his energetic family of five sons was hired. Under Rabbi Pickholtz’s charismatic leadership, Sinai Synagogue became a warm, welcoming spiritual home for all Jews, whether or not they had grown up following Orthodox tradition.

The Betar Zionist youth organization also found a home for its meetings and programs, which helped to further strengthen the synagogue as the young people in turn brought their families for services.

In 2012, a consolidation agreement was completed with Taylor Road Synagogue, resulting in the new Oheb Zedek Cedar Sinai Synagogue. Oheb Zedek Synagogue was a well-established congregation located at Parkwood Drive and Morison Avenue dating back to 1922. As its members moved to the suburbs, forward-thinking synagogue leadership purchased property on
Taylor Road, adjacent to Cain Park. During this period, several other smaller Glenville congregations merged with Oheb Zedek to form the new Taylor Road Synagogue in 1952.

Rabbi Louis Engelberg, a Yeshiva University graduate originally from Tennessee, joined Oheb Zedek in 1939. He took a leave from the synagogue to serve his country as a military chaplain during World War II. Upon return from the service, he resumed his pulpit and led the synagogue during a period of dynamic growth and vibrancy.

During the 1960s, Taylor Road Synagogue enjoyed the distinction of being the largest Orthodox congregation between Chicago and New York City. It had a thriving religious school, Sisterhood, Couple’s Club and a full calendar of activities.

In 2018, Rabbi Truboff made Aliyah and Rabbi Noah Leavitt assumed leadership of Oheb Zedek Cedar Sinai Synagogue. Today, the synagogue continues to grow and to fulfill its spiritual legacy by serving as a comfortable home for Jews of all ages and backgrounds. It welcomes guests from the full spectrum of Cleveland’s Jewish community, who are impressed with the meaningful services, beautiful facility and warm congregation.

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Sat, July 24 2021 15 Av 5781