Beth Israel, the Jewish Congregation of Sun City Center
By CONNIE DREW
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2002
LOCATION: 1115 E Del Webb Blvd., Sun City Center
SERVICES: Shabbat Services are held at 7:45 p.m. Fridays. Services are held on all Jewish holidays.
LEADERSHIP: Rabbi David Susskind
HISTORY: In 1975, Rabbi Adolph J. Feinberg gathered a small flock of about 28 people to observe and hold Sabbath services on Friday. Services were held in the Meditation Chapel of United Community Church; prayer books were donated by Temple Beth El of St. Petersburg. Rabbi Feinberg, of Indiana, who spent the fall and winter in the retirement community of Sun City Center, had to leave for medical reasons. The community of Sun City Center owes much to him for his untiring efforts to obtain ambulance service and establish a hospital in Sun City Center. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services were then held in a worshipper's home. The Rev. Dr. Robert W. Gingery encouraged the congregation to resume meeting in the Meditation Chapel. As the congregation grew, there was a need for leadership and organization and in 1983, the first election of officers was held. In 1987, enough money was donated to purchase two acres to build a synagogue that was dedicated on Feb. 26, 1988. Rabbi Susskind took over part-time leadership two years ago.
MEMBERSHIP: Nearly 200
COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Member of the Interfaith Social Action Committee. Serves Christmas dinner at Beth El Mission each year. Serves in a social capacity as "an extended family" to the community.
NOTABLE: Currently has a cantorial soloist. Organized a Sisterhood and is now forming a Men'st Club. The Henry Gibson Social Hall is used for meetings, holiday dinners and other events including social functions for the community.