Sinai Temple

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Marion caught their first glimpse of the stunning Sinai Temple on Sunday the 14th of March in 1937. Sinai Temple was built because of a rise in the Jewish population in Marion. At this time Sinai Temple boasted around 500 members. The temple was erected and furnished by the Harreld Brothers. They decorated the exterior by using rostone a beautiful material that, at the time, made Sinai Temple Stand out from other buildings. The building of Sinai Temple, the past rabbis that have preached here, and the members that the temple means so much to all hold a place in Marion’s history.

Physical Details

Sinai Temple was finished and was ready to present in March of 1937. The general contractor, the Harreld Brothers, used rostone, which was considered a scientific breakthrough at the time (‘Pormal Opening of Sinai Temple Will Be Held”). The temple’s lumber and mill work came from Barley and Spencer Lumber Company (“Lumber Store Has New Owner”). Usher Plumbing Company provided all of Sinai Temple’s plumbing and heating. State Roofing and Supply Company, Incorporated did all the roof, insulation, and paint work. State Roofing and Supply Company did all of the insulation with rock wool (“Formal Opening of Sinai Temple Will Be Held”). The rostone was prepared by the R-H-K Corporation which is based in Lafayette. Rostone is primarily made up of limestone, shale, and lime. The big advantage of rostone over many other building materials is that it gives the builder the opportunity to choose from a variety of colors to paint with, and it is also weatherproof (“Use of Rostone Material in New Building”). The rostone is painted in a steel gray with a buff type tint.

The sash windows are made of total metal, and are equipped with gorgeous stained glass (“Use of Rostone Material in New Building”). The main room, or sanctuary, is located on the east end. The sanctuary can be reached by the cement steps with the iron railing right on Boots Street, or there are stairs from the side entrance on Sixth Street which take you up about seven feet to the sanctuary. The Sanctuary can seat up to 300 people at one time, but with folding chairs can get near 500. The room’s focal point is the platform which holds the arc and the podium at which the leader would stand (“Use of Rostone Material in New Building”). The basement floor which can be entered through the side door on Sixth Street and down about seven steps or it can be accessed through the Boots Street door and down a whole flight of stairs. The basement is there to hold any banquets or festivities to large for the sanctuary. The eastern side has a stage that is about twenty feet by thirty feet (“Use of Rostone Material in New Building”). The western side has a kitchen, two restrooms, and a banquet room. The kitchen has a large sink, two large ovens, a counter top, and two large refrigerators. The banquet room contains seven large tables, a piano, and one large serving table (“Use of Rostone Material in New Building”). In 1956 Sinai Temple with the help of Maidenberg real-estate expanded the temple. A western wing was added. This wing was to house the Sunday school. There are four different classrooms, and one large meeting room which doubled as a library. Sinai Temple may now seem like an ancient structure but when it was built it was an architectural marvel (Blueprints of Building Addition).

Rabbis through the Years

Many different rabbis have come through the Sinai Temple family, which helped to seal its historical greatness. The first rabbi, who lived at 321 S. Race, was Reverend Louis Siegel. He paved the way for future rabbis of Sinai Temple by attempting to give back to the community. The first couple of rabbis were fully ordained and were full-time workers at Sinai Temple, but as the congregation’s numbers lessened they were forced to hire a student rabbi from the Rabbinical College in Cincinnati (Directory 1940). The first rabbi to ever work at the actual Sinai Temple structure was Alexander D. Goode. He served as a student rabbi from 1936-1937. He became famous as one of the Four Chaplains. Alexander Goode was born May 10, 1911. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati and then enrolled in the Hebrew Union College. He then became a Student rabbi at Sinai Temple (Joyce ifi, James). Next Goode decided to join the army. He was placed along with three Christian chaplains on the Dorchester. The Dorchester was under attack and began sinking. The Four Chaplains are remembered for giving their own jackets, gloves, and life preservers to some of the 902 soldiers about the sinking Dorchester (Joyce III, James). Each of the Four Chaplains received a Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Crosses for Bravery, and Congressional Special medals of Valor — the only ones ever given out. On February 2, 2003 Sinai Temple dedicated a plaque to honor Alexander David Goode (Joyce III, James). Although not all of the rabbis have plaques, each one has been an important part in the Sinai Temple History.

The Congregation

The congregation of Sinai Temple has always played a role in the shaping of the Marion community. There is plaque which was presented to Sinai Temple from the Riley Children’s Hospital for all the money the congregation has contributed. Also the congregation continually plants at least three trees in Israel each year through donations (Chang, Brian). One of the long kept traditions of Sinai Temple is for the class of students that will be confirmed that year to give a gift to the community or the temple. One group planted flowers all over the city. Another group painted the aging Sunday school to make it look new. Some larger classes have gone as far as to clean up dirtied roads and medians. But, some of the smaller classes made new table clothes, or they went and helped at an old folk’s home (Chang, Brian). Some of the members can remember when the congregation filled the entire temple, but now the numbers have been dwindling. There are less than 60 people in the congregation (Chang, Brian). But, the spirit that has kept Sinai Temple alive is not at all dwindling. The number of people that participate in the Sinai Temple family may be small but they still manage to plant trees in Israel, plant flowers, clean up roads, and help those who are in need no matter what their beliefs may be.


The historic opening of Sinai Temple, the past rabbis, and the faithful congregation make Sinai Temple a landmark in Marion. When it was built, in 1937, Sinai Temple was a marvel of the advanced architecture at the time. The rabbis, some more than others, where not just recognized in Marion, but did extraordinary things for the entire nation. The congregation, may not be large in numbers anymore, has always been a great charitable bunch of people, who just love to help people.

Work Cited

  • Blue Prints of Addition to Building
  • Chang, Brian; Rabbi. Personal interview. 20 Dec. 2004.
  • “Formal Opening of Sinai Temple Will Be Held.” Chronicle Tribune 14 Mar. 1937, sec.

A: 2-2.

  • Joyce Ill, James. “The Four Immortal honored.” Chronicle Tribune 3 Feb. 2003, sec. A: A2-A2.
  • “Lumber Store Has New Owner.” Chronicle Tribune 14 Mar. 1937, sec. A: 2-2.
  • Marion Ind. and Grant County. Directory 1940. Marion: n,p., 1940.
  • “Use of Rostone Material in New Building.” Chronicle Tribune 14 Mar. 1937, sec. a: 2-3.


This article was written by Kenny Reto and submitted on January 6, 2004 for Mr. Munn’s AP US History Class at Marion High School.