Congregation Bnai Shalom

Congregation B’nai Sholom History

In the mid 1950’s it became apparent that there was a need for a Conservative Congregation in the Long Branch Area. In September 1956, Mrs. Herbert Becker sent a letter to the Jewish Theological Seminary asking for help in getting started. In response two representatives of the United Synagogue of America, Dr. Henry Simon and Dr. Maxwell Kaye met with eight local families at the Becker home on October 11, 1956. Present at that meeting in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Becker, were Mr. and Mrs. Max Adler, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Cohen, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Gnesin, Mr. and Mrs. Milton Goodman, Dr. and Mrs. Harold Eder, Mrs. Dina Nobel and Mr. and Mrs. Irving (Dottie) Sachs. Dr. Simon and Dr. Kaye spoke of the basic tenets of Conservative Judaism and explained how to go about organizing a congregation.

At a meeting shortly thereafter, the following officers were elected: Herbert Becker, President; Mrs. Oscar Gnesin, Vice President; Roy Iskowe, Secretary; Mrs. Herbert Becker, Corresponding Secretary; and Milton Goodman, Treasurer. On Friday evening, November 2, 1956 the first Conservative service was conducted. Services continued on a regular basis at various locations in Long Branch.

The first High Holy Day services began in 1957, and were held at the Isle De Capri Hotel, Ocean Avenue, Long Branch. Services were conducted by Rabbi Robert Hammer. Our Sunday School opened. In November 1957 a Congregation Sisterhood was formed, with Mrs. Oscar Gnesin as President and early in December a Men’s Club was also formed with Henry Kaufman as President. At Simchat Torah services in 1957 two Torahs were donated by Benjamin Goldstein, which allowed us to start regular Saturday morning services. Also, In November of 1957 the Congregation purchased the former Brent-Good Estate at 130 Morris Avenue in Long Branch.

By the early 1960’s we had outgrown the house on Morris Avenue and planning started for the construction of a new building. In June of 1963 a parcel of land at 213 Lenox Ave. became available, and was purchased from the City of Long Branch in order to erect a permanent Synagogue. The next year was a very active one with Fund Raising activities and the selection of an architect and builder, all leading to a ground breaking ceremony on Sunday October 25, 1964.

Two years after the ground breaking, on Sunday August 7, 1966 a roof covering ceremony was held and in September of that year the first High Holiday services took place in our own new building, even though the building was not fully ready. It had rained very hard for several days just before the Holidays and a lot of water and mud had to be navigated in order to get into the building. Wooden planks were put down, which proved to be quite an adventure to cross since they were not very stable

The Congregation was led by eight Rabbis and 22 Presidents. It drew most of its members from Long Branch, West Long Branch, Eatontown, and Ocean Township. A significant number were employed at Fort Monmouth, the U.S. Army research, development, and procurement center for electronics and intelligence equipment, as engineers and technicians. (NOTE – The Fort is currently being closed down and moved to Aberdeen, MD.) At its peak B’nai Sholom had about 140 families, diminishing to 95 when it merged with Temple Beth El.

During the many years, the Congregation was ably served by its members. Helping to conduct services were Max Adler, Abe Grossman, and Harold Seldin. Max and Abe also taught the children for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. In addition, Max headed the Ritual Committee, and assured the smooth preparation and running of High Holiday services. The office was run by Dottie Sachs, who saw to it that the building was maintained, bills were paid, and dues collected.

In the latter years, Congregation and Sisterhood functions were ably run by Yetta Epstein, Bernice Shutman, and Charlotte Ginsburg. Norbert Miller retained the perpetual role of Treasurer of the Men’s Club. For High Holiday services, Cantor Max Klein was hired. The Congregation adopted him and his family, just as they adopted us. The entire membership volunteered for Bingo. It was a fund raising event that drew the entire Congregation together.

Our last Rabbi, Jonathan Waxman led the Congregation from 1977 to 2002, twenty five years. He is a third generation Conservative rabbi, and provided insightful and scholarly comments on all facets of Jewish study.

In 2001-2002 it was recognized that the synagogue could not long continue to sustain itself. Membership had declined to 95 families; there were no new young families moving into the area; it was difficult to attract new members due to competition from both Temple Beth El (TBE) and Temple Beth Torah (TBT). The vast majority of the members were in the 60 and above age bracket. The Congregation entered into merger discussions with both TBT and TBE. It voted to merge with TBE. The merger was celebrated August 1, 2002.

Upon the merger, Adam Bogner together with Les Fromkin finished out their term as a co-president of the merged congregation. All plaques and other memorabilia were transferred to Beth El, as well as four torahs. The building was sold to the Sephardic Torah Center.

B’nai Sholom Today – The number of families currently at Congregation Torat El dropped to about 70. Attrition has been due to death or relocation. Currently, there are between 15 to 20 families/members actively participating in synagogue life.

The B’nai Sholom Foundation was created from the surplus monies resulting from the sale of B’nai Shalom real estate. The Foundation provides financial support to Jewish Cultural Events.



 Our Leaders

YEAR      RABBI                    CONGREGATION           SISTERHOOD                MEN’S CLUB

56/57                                               Herbert Becker                  Muriel Becker

57/58      Robert Hammer           George  Jacobson           Sylvia Gnesin

58/59      Bernard Frankel            George Jacobson           Sylvia Gnesin            Henry Kaufman

59/60      Alex Graubart              Martin Meisner                    Myrna Meisner           Henry Kaufman

60/61      Saul  Wisemon             Martin Meisner                 Greta Adler

61/62      Alex Graubart              Irving Bolton                 Myrna Meisner

62/63      Alex Graubart              Max Adler                     Bernice Stupp            Bernard Nathanson

63/64      Marvin Goldson           Max Adler                     Bernice Stupp            Bernard Nathanson

64/65      Alex Graubart               Mortimer Zinn              Seena Roth                Herbert Tanzman

65/66      Albert Raab                Mortimer Zinn               Seena Roth                George  Goldenberg

66/67      Albert Raab                Max Adler                     Bernice Stupp            George Goldenberg

67/68      Albert Raab                 Murray Weiss                 Gertrude Hoffman     Daniel Leitstein

68/69      Albert  Raab                Murray Weiss                 Seena Roth                Daniel Leitstein

69/70      Albert Raab                 Murray Weiss                   Linda Maltzman      William Fishbein

70/71      Albert Raab                 Daniel Leitstein              Linda Maltzman        William Fishbein

71/72      Albert Raab                 Daniel Leitstein              Linda Maltzman        Samuel  Segner

72/73      Philip Blachorsky         Arnold Silberman           Seena Roth                Herb Tanzman

73/74      Philip Blachorsky         Arnold Silberman           Edna Silberman                     Arthur Tauber

74/75      Philip Blachorsky         Arnold Silberman           Linda Maltzman        Arthur Tauber

75/76      Philip Blachorsky         Robert Isaacson             Linda Maltzman        Irving Bogner

76/77      Philip Blachorsky         Robert Isaacson             Seena Roth                Irving Bogner

77/78      Jonathan Waxman        Linda Maltzman             Seena Roth                Ed  Kronish

78/79      Jonathan Waxman        Linda Maltzman             Marsha Fishbein        Ed Kronish

79/80      Jonathan Waxman        Linda Maltzman             Yetta Epstein             Paul Kaufman

80/81      Jonathan Waxman        Linda Maltzman             Yetta Epstein             Chester Friedman

81/82      Jonathan Waxman        Zeldon Rose                   Yetta Epstein             Paul Kaufman

92/83      Jonathan Waxman        Zeldon Rose                   Barbara Fisher           Joel Schulman

83/84      Jonathan Waxman        Robert Lieberman           Yetta Epstein             Joel Schulman

84/85      Jonathan Waxman        Sandra Kaplan              Linda Merrill             Mark Bohrer

85/86      Jonathan Waxman        Sandra Kaplan               Linda Merrill             Mark Bohrer

86/87      Jonathan  Waxman       Seena Roth                    Selma Goldman         David Greene

87/88      Jonathan Waxman        Seena Roth                     Selma Goldman        Roy Kallens

88/89      Jonathan Waxman        Presidium of V.P.             Presidium of V.P.       Roy Kallens

89/90      Jonathan Waxman        Adrienne Messner           Charlott Ginsburg       Abe Grossman

90/91      Jonathan Waxman        Adrienne Messner           Charlotte Ginsburg    Norbert Miller

91/92      Jonathan Waxman        Charlotte Ginsburg         Linda Merrill             Norbert Miller

92/93      Jonathan Waxman        Charlotte Ginsburg         Linda Merrill             Joel Schulman

93/94      Jonathan Waxman        Sandra Bernstein            Charlotte Ginsburg    Milton Bernstein

94/95      Jonathan Waxman        Sandra Bernstein            Charlotte Ginsburg    Milton Bernstein

95/96      Jonathan Waxman        Sandra Bernstein            Charlotte Ginsburg    Milton Bernstein

96/97      Jonathan Waxman        Joel Schulman               Charlotte Ginsburg    Milton Bernstein

97/98      Jonathan Waxman        Joel Schulman               Charlotte Ginsburg    Milton Bernstein

98/99      Jonathan Waxman        Sharon Emmons             Charlotte Ginsburg    Milton Bernstein

99/2000  Jonathan Waxman         Zeldon Rose                   Charlotte Gonsburg   Milton Bernstein

2000//02 Jonathan Waxman         Adam Bogner                Charlotte Ginsburg    Milton Epstein