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Our History

Congregation Sinai

In the early 1950s, several families that had been meeting as a traditional minyan in Temple Emanu-El’s Social Hall decided it was time to form their own synagogue. With Rabbi Gitin’s support, the idea quickly took form. The founding members chose the name Congregation Sinai because it paralleled the Jews’ wandering in the desert before their arrival at Mount Sinai. After several years of assembling in temporary locations, Sinai’s current property was purchased in 1956. There, Sinai flourished. In the mid-1980’s, Congregation Sinai affiliated with the Conservative Movement. While membership declined in the 1990s, the past decade has seen significant growth in membership and energy at the shul.

In 2006, a new campus was built from the ground up, including a sanctuary inspired by the beauty of Jerusalem and modeled on the Tabernacle that the Israelites carried with them in the wildernes. Comprised of beautiful and inspiring areas of worship as well as functional spaces, the new building exudes a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for adults and children alike. Religious services have been expanded including special services for children of all ages and programs such as Torah for Tots, Family Services, and Torah ‘N Tefillah. Youth programs run the gamut from Ima & Me to Jr. Kadima, Kadima and USY, and Sinai hosts the only Jewish Girl Scout troop nearby. The Sinai Nursery School continues to be a draw throughout the Bay Area. Other areas of focus have included Adult Education, Social Action, and Information and Technology.

The Sinai community remains strong and vibrant, and over recent years it has been strengthened and invigorated by new leadership. Rabbi Joshua Berkenwald joined Sinai in August 2007 as its spiritual leader. His energy, creativity, and enthusiasm embody and engender the passion of the shul. The following summer, Joelle Pluemer took the role of Executive Director, and in August 2016, the congregation further expanded its education offerings to encompass youth and adult education under the leadership of Michelle Jenkins Taylor.

Congregation Sinai is lay-led, multi-generational, and egalitarian. It continues to thrive due to the efforts of the many members who are dedicated to fostering this close-knit, welcoming community. 

Congregation Sinai is here because of the efforts of individuals and families who dreamed and created a close-knit congregation that honors Jewish tradition. Their hard work and generosity ensured that a special congregation is alive today. Now it is time to guarantee its success as we experience the next 50 years together.  Come to Sinai and experience the warmth of our Sinai family. From our caring and charismatic staff to our friendly and hospitable members. All are welcome.