History of WRT

1953: WRT founded

  • Eugene Lipman serves as part-time rabbi.
  • Rowland Mindlin is first president.
  • The first services were held in Dyckman Hall, Scarsdale.
  • Later services are held in several area churches.


  • Under President Clifford H. Rich the Sisterhood and Men’s Club are founded.
  • One hundred children are in Sunday School.
  • Maurice H. Schatz is chosen as first full-time rabbi.
  • The land is purchased where the Temple now stands.


  • David Greenberg is selected as second full-time rabbi.


  • Irving Isaac serves as Temple president.


  • Under President Edwin J. Steefel construction begins on Temple building.


  • Under President Ulrich Schweitzer construction of Temple is completed.
  • The Sanctuary is designed as a Magen David.


  • Under President Dr. Milton Zaret the Temple is dedicated at a special service.


  • Erwin Herman serves as interim rabbi.


  • Jack Stern, Jr. is installed as third full-time rabbi.


  • Tenth Anniversary Service.
  • Tenth Anniversary Ball at Hampshire Country Club.


  • Expansion of the Temple is authorized.
  • Dedication of Czechoslovakian Sefer Torah, which is on permanent loan from Westminster Synagogue, London


  • Peter Rubinstein becomes first rabbinic intern.


  • Joseph Boardman becomes first full-time cantor and music director.
  • Ground-breaking services for Temple expansion during Irving Berkelhammer’s presidency.


  • First Leo Baeck Lecture with Morris Abrams as speaker.      
  • Soil from Israel is deposited in base of new Sanctuary Ark by Rabbi Stern.


  • Under President Norman L. Blumstein, the new sanctuary is dedicated at special service.
  • The classroom wing is dedicated in memory of Irving Berkelhammer.


  • Official change from Ashkenazic to Sephardic pronunciation of Hebrew.
  • Stained glass windows designed by Ephraim Weitzman and Czechoslovakian Torah Mantle are dedicated.
  • Stuart A. Gertman appointed the first assistant rabbi and director of religious education.
  • Seymour Sims receives the first Men’s Club Brotherhood Award for service to community and Temple.


  • First Stephen Sulds Memorial Film Festival.
  • Dedication of organ. Dedication of Library endowed and furnished by Temple Sisterhood.
  • Dedication of new Sanctuary doors designed by Betty Goldstein.


  • 20th Anniversary Dance at Temple, Roberta Peters soloist.
  • WRT Endowment Trust Fund has begun.


  • First Kenneth B. Corlin Memorial Program for Human Relations in cooperation with Scarsdale Board of Education.
  • First Scholar-in-Residence Series with Dr. Martin A. Cohen as lecturer.
  • Dedication of outdoor memorial sculpture.
  • Dedication of Youth Lounge as a gift of Temple Men’s Club.


  • Social Action Committee receives Abraham J. Heschel Award of Federation of Jewish Philanthropies for outstanding contribution to aged and impoverished Jews.
  • Worship from Gates of Prayer is initiated at Men’s Club Sabbath.


  • Rabbi Peter Weintraub selected a second assistant rabbi and director of Religious Education.


  • Under President Ralph Wienshienk, Rabbi Stern is honored with life contract.


  • Year-long celebration of Silver Jubilee – under President Alfred Ronald.
  • First Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Temple.


  • First WRT sponsored Youth Group trip to Israel.


  • WRT adopts two Vietnamese families.
  • Richard Jacobs begins a year as rabbinic intern at WRT.


  • Celebration service in honor of Jack and Priscilla Stern’s twenty years at WRT.
  • Dedication of the Outdoor Sanctuary under President Joseph Bernstein.
  • Rabbi Deborah Zecher, our third Assistant Rabbi and Director of Education, comes to WRT.


  • Temple celebrates its 30th anniversary with a Shabbat service and gala dinner dance.


  • First Jules Bloch Memorial Lecture.
  • Temple inaugurates Shabbat morning Torah study service.
  • Sculpted chuppah dedicated in Outdoor Sanctuary.


  • WRT Parenting Center opens. Susan Cheskin appointed director.


  • Under President Rosemary Berdon, the Congregation approves the addition of nursery school classrooms to Religious School wing and the renovation and extension of Temple facilities.
  • Congregation begins its ongoing support of Mazon, the Jewish response to world hunger.
  • WRT joins an interfaith coalition to feed and house the homeless of Westchester.


  • Temple celebrates its 35th anniversary, the completion of its renovation and Jack and Priscilla Stern’s 25th anniversary at WRT.


  • Cantor Boardman is named Cantor Emeritus.
  • Stephen Merkel is appointed cantor & music director at WRT.


  • Beth Mauser was appointed first full-time executive director at WRT.
  • First Russian family is adopted.
  • Congregation welcomed Beth Singer as fourth assistant rabbi.


  • Under President William S. Miller, the Fund for the Generations is established in honor of Rabbi Jack and Priscilla Stern.
  • Rabbi Jack Stern, Jr. retires and is named Rabbi Emeritus
  • The congregation welcomes Rabbi Richard Jacobs as its fourth senior rabbi.
  • Rabbi Beth Singer is appointed associate rabbi.


  • WRT welcomes Sharon Halper as full-time director of education.
  • The congregation begins to use the new Gates of Prayer for Shabbat.
  • Outreach Committee is formed.


  • Under President William S. Miller, Temple purchases 257 Mamaroneck Road for expansion purposes.
  • William A. Blumstein becomes Temple President.
  • The Caring Community is created to care for members during difficult times such as illness and bereavement.


  • ARZA membership presented to every B’nei Mitzvah.
  • WRT selected as participant in Experiment in Congregational Education.
  • Sorel Goldberg Loeb was selected as the second Early Childhood Center director.
  • WRT selected as participant in Gift of Israel Program.
  • Critical Issues Forum established.


  • Bat Mitzvah of Dasha Schevtchenko from WRT’s Russian family.
  • Ann Z. Finkelstein appointed second executive director.
  • Congregation approves plans for creation of Center for Jewish Life.
  • Congregation welcomes Rabbi Judith Schindler as fifth assistant rabbi.
  • First Mitzvah Day
  • First Emeritus Weekend


  • Purchased 253 Mamaroneck Road.
  • Groundbreaking for Center for Jewish Life.
  • Rabbi Jacobs leads congregational trip to Israel.
  • The Second day Rosh Hashanah Service held for the first time.


  • WRT Board approves establishment of relationship with Kehillat Mevasseret Zion in Israel
  • Experiment in Congregational Education Task Force evolves into Education Council.
  • Marjorie L. Miller elected President.
  • Cantor Merkel leads congregants on Eastern European Trip.
  • Dedication of Center for Jewish Life.
  • WRT adopts Kehillat Mevasseret Zion in Israel as sister congregation.
  • Rabbi Schindler leads congregational trip to Israel and visits Kehillat Mevasseret Zion.


  • Gala celebration of Cantor Stephen Merkel’s 10th anniversary at WRT.
  • Israeli Fair in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Israel.
  • Congregation engages Rabbi Kenneth Chasen as sixth assistant
  • Congregation engages Rabbi Laurie Katz Braun as first assistant rabbi for youth.
  • Family High Holy Day Worship Services initiated.


  • ECC receives day care license, allowing afternoon sessions for first time.
  • Ruth Frankfurt, beloved teacher of 45 years, is honored on her retirement.
  • Angela Warnick Buchdahl invested as Cantor.
  • JrWRAFTY is created for children in grades 6, 7 and 8.
  • Dual Sabbath Eve Services begun.


  • Sorel Goldberg Loeb becomes Director of Education.
  • Marilyn Master named Administrative Director of Education.
  • Phyllis Shankman joins WRT as Director of the ECC.
  • Rabbi Jacobs receives ARZA/WORLD UNION North America International Humanitarian Award.


  • First WRT Women’s Seder is held for 120 women.
  • Amy Lemle is elected President of WRT.
  • Angela Warnick Buchdahl is ordained, named Assistant Rabbi/Cantor.
  • Afternoon Havdalah B’nei Mitzvah ceremonies are begun.


  • Greeters Initiative begins for Friday night Shabbat and festival services.
  • WRT sends 100 to National Rally to Support Israel in Washington, D.C.
  • Cantor Merkel teaches song leading to progressive congregations in Russia.
  • Religious School Initiative develops proposals to re-invent Religious School with pilot classes beginning in the Fall.
  • Congregation participates in county-wide Synagogue 2000 program to foster sacred community.


  • The congregation buys the house at 11 Saxon Woods Road for campus expansion.
  • Rabbi Jonathan E. Blake joins WRT as seventh associate rabbi.
  • WRT forms a partnership with Edward Williams School in Mount Vernon.


  • Rogers Marvel Architects selected for sanctuary & school design.
  • WRT celebrates 50th Year with theatrical performance The Five Pillars.                      
  • Sue Tolchin is hired as Early Childhood Director.
  • Yoel Magid begins as third Executive Director.


  • WRT first welcomes Rabbi Dario Feiguin of Buenos Aires.
  • Ellen Sunness is elected President of WRT.
  • WRT sends a tractor trailer full of food and clothing to Hurricane Katrina victims.
  • Rabbi Jacobs travels to Chad to meet with Darfur genocide survivors.


  • Sharing Shabbat celebrates 10th-year anniversary.
  • Cantor Mia Fram Davidson joins WRT’s clergy team.
  • Singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman begins year as Artist- in-Residence.
  • Lech Lecha Renewal Campaign is publicly launched.


  • WRT mourns the passing of Cantor Stephen Merkel z”l.
  • With Men’s Club assistance, area homeless men shelter overnight at WRT.
  • Cantor Jill Abramson begins as Senior Cantor, joined by newly ordained Assistant Cantor Dan Sklar.
  • Green Task Force is created.


  • WRT mourns the death of Cantor Emeritus Joseph Boardman.
  • WRT bids farewell to long-time accompanist Justin Bischof.
  • Rabbi David Hartman delivers first memorial lecture in remembrance of Rabbi Jacob & Deborah Rubenstein of Young Israel of Scarsdale.


  • Lisa Messinger is elected President.
  • Rabbi Jacobs brings memorial stones from Israel for new memorial garden.
  • Dedication held for new sanctuary and social hall.
  • Jazz pianist & conductor Pete Malinverni hired as music accompanist.


  • Torah written by congregants is dedicated to Sorel Goldberg Loeb.
  • WRT joins area congregations to help unemployed members find new jobs.
  • Taking actions to Stand with Israel is focus of Town Hall meeting.


  • Rabbi Jacobs announces acceptance of Presidency of the URJ.
  • WRT mourns the death of Rabbi Emeritus Jack Stern z”l.
  • Community Visioning Conversations held to assist senior rabbi selection.
  • WRT begins community organizing work with Westchester United.


  • WRT mourns death of singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman z”l.
  • Rabbi Jonathan E. Blake is installed as Senior Rabbi after national search.
  • Rabbi David Levy becomes Assistant Rabbi.
  • Rabbi Marcus Burstein is named Acting Associate Rabbi.


  • WRT’s Got Talent features an evening of congregational entertainment.
  • Congregants lobby in Albany with Reform Jewish Voice of New York.
  • Helene Gray is elected President.
  • Rabbi Sara Abrams becomes Assistant Rabbi.
  • Alan Halpern begins as fourth Executive Director.


  • WRT joins other faith institutions in Gun Violence Prevention Shabbat.
  • Project Grad Bag is organized to facilitate reuse of college dorm supplies.
  • Rosh Hashanah Gift of Life Bone Marrow Drive nets 144 new donors.
  • The inaugural Sukkah Slam features food trucks and outdoor live music.


  • WRT establishes BBYO chapter for Jewish teens.
  • Former cantorial intern Amanda Kleinman is named Assistant Cantor.
  • Eli Kornreich begins as fifth Executive Director.
  • WRT launches Zero Waste Program.
  • iSing Shabbat program debuts for grades 1-4 and their families.
  • WRT is recognized as Exemplar Congregation for its inclusion work.


  • Family Shabbat weekend retreat held at Eisner Camp.
  • Adult Choir performs Bonia Shur’s “Hallel Psalms.”
  • Rabbi Daniel Reiser named Assistant Rabbi.
  • New High Holiday prayer book, Mishkan HaNefesh, is introduced.
  • Refugee Resettlement Task Force holds first meeting.


  • Cantor Abramson was selected as AJWS global justice fellow.
  • Marcy R. Harris is elected President.
  • Associate Rabbi David Levy is named Jewish Learning Lab Director.
  • WRT’s reimagined religious school opens as Jewish Learning Lab.
  • Cantor Kleinman introduces a 2-year Adult Confirmation program.


  • Rabbi Blake and Cantor Kleinman lead 24 high school seniors to Israel.
  • Rabbi Levy wins Young Pioneer Award from Jewish Education Project.
  • WRT celebrates its 65th anniversary with tribute to past, present and future.
  • Connections Membership is piloted for young families post-ECC.


  • WRT pays tribute to Reform pioneer Isaac Mayer Wise on his 200th birthday.
  • WRT mourns the tragic death of Rabbi Aaron Panken z”l.
  • Cantor Kleinman begins as Senior Cantor.
  • Melton Adult Education Program attracts new WRT learners.
  • WRT resettles 2 refugee sisters from Central African Republic.


  • Covid-19 pandemic forces worship, life cycles and operations online.
  • ECC is the only Westchester school open, in person, for the entire school year.
  • Newly ordained Cantor Danielle Rodnizki begins as Assistant Cantor.
  • Pre-recorded High Holiday services are offered remotely.
  • Inspired Giving Campaign nets over $1 million for Covid relief.


  • WRT holds its first drive-thru Purim-Palooza in the WRT parking lot.
  • Warren Haber is elected WRT President.
  • Rabbi Blake offers series of sermons honoring Bob Dylan on his 80th birthday.
  • High Holidays tent services draw members back to WRT.
  • WRT marks “Thanksgivukkah” with outdoor menorah lighting ceremony.


  • Rabbis Levy and Reiser are blessed at weekend celebration.
  • Rabbi Leah Citrin joins WRT as Associate Rabbi and JLL Director.
  • Rabbi Sasha Baken begins as Assistant Rabbi.
  • WRT holds its first Mitzvah Fair.
  • The first year for WRT Delivers Thanksgiving, delivering 365 meals.


  • Cantorial Intern Isaac Sonett-Assor is hired as Assistant Cantor.
  • Sue Tolchin, beloved ECC Director, is honored upon her retirement after 19 years.
  • ECC Associate Director Rebecca Roseman begins as ECC Director.
  • Rabbis Blake and Baken bring 80 WRT members to Israel March in Washington, DC.


  • Shabbat celebration honors Rabbi Blake’s 20 years at WRT.
  • Gala Event celebrating WRT’s 70th anniversary.