Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Stuart Sinai becomes Temple Beth Israel president

He was installed via Zoom in May.

  • By
  • | 7:32 a.m. June 29, 2020
Temple executive director Isaac Azerad, Rabbi Stephen Sniderman and new temple president Stuart Sinai at an event in 2019.
Temple executive director Isaac Azerad, Rabbi Stephen Sniderman and new temple president Stuart Sinai at an event in 2019.
  • Longboat Key
  • Neighbors
  • Share

 In May, Temple Beth Israel welcomed a new leader to the organization in the form of president Stuart Sinai, who succeeds Murray Blueglass and will serve for the 2020-21 year. 

Sinai, who’s been a Temple member for about five years, is stepping into leadership at perhaps the strangest time in recent memory as the coronavirus pandemic wears on, but he’s confident in the support and organization of the temple and its staff to keep everything running smoothly. 

“We have really a dedicated group of people,” Sinai said. “Everyone's doing their job. And the more they do their job, the less I have to do.”

Sinai has been a member of several committees throughout his time at the temple, which helped to put him on a path to the top of the organization. He’s received guidance from presidents who came before him, whom he said also encouraged him when he was on the Board of Trustees and mentored Sinai as he worked through the temple. As he takes on leadership, he’s glad for the previous and current myriad voices in his ear. 

“When you have a group of many people who are extremely successful in their fields, you have a lot of opinions come your way,” Sinai said. “You don’t need to agree, but you need to listen.”

As for his goals for the Temple, Sinai wants to focus on contacting and bringing in the unaffiliated Jewish community in the area to grow the temple’s membership overall. A committee is focused on more advertisements in local media, he said, and wants to stress the beautiful grounds, their easy-to-approach and empathetic rabbi Stephen Sniderman and all the educational programs the temple puts on. 

“When you take over an … organization that's running well, that's been very successful, and in a sense, thriving, the goal is really to keep it going and increase its members and its presence on the island,” Sinai said. 

There’s no timeline to reopen the temple, which closed in mid-March due to the pandemic, but Sinai hopes outreach will be able to bring new members into the organization even as they can’t come together in person.

The temple is what Sinai describes as “pluralistic,” bringing in a mass of varying views as the only Jewish center of worship on Longboat Key, so he believes there’s room for everyone, no matter their views. 

“We are, in all respects, the center of Jewish life,” Sinai said. “Many of us are what I call ‘intellectually contemporary,’ you might say modern-leaning Jews, but with a deep commitment to being Jewish, whatever that might mean to many people.”

As Sinai settles into his presidency, which involves many meetings, supervising committees and more phone calls and emails than he would have expected, he’s realizing that it’s just about a full-time job. And he’s got another one of those as well, as he still works from his full-time home on Longboat Key with his Detroit law firm Kemp Klein. All meetings at the temple are still virtual, and Sinai sits in on many of them. Luckily, he’s already well-versed in working from home, as he’s done so for years with Kemp Klein. 

“Now of course everybody in the world seems to be doing that,” Sinai said. “We were sort of ahead of our time.”

Amidst it all, Sinai is finding the fun in his days as he navigates a new job in the new normal. He misses dropping in on the rabbi and seeing everyone in person on Friday evenings for Shabbat, but Zoom works for now. He’s committed to listening, learning and leading Temple Beth Israel into a new world. 

“Among serious things, some humor comes in and makes it easier to deal with issues,” Sinai said. “Actually, it's fun. It’s enjoyable. I'm having fun doing it.”


Latest News