Our History

 

Jews first arrived in DeLand in the late 1940s and early 1950s, where they were socially restricted. Many businesses, such as restaurants, social clubs, hotels, and the golf course, did not allow Jews. Many people did not want Jews attending their private parties. These circumstances brought together a small and strong Jewish community.

DeLand Jews worshipped in Daytona Beach before a Baptist church welcomed them to observe Shabbat there each week. The new congregation held services there from 1949 until early 1954. During this time, there were only a dozen Jewish families in West Volusia County. In 1953, nine of these families each contributed $500 to start a building fund for their very own synagogue. These nine families are the Avins, Brauns, Fishers, Gibbses, Greenbergs, Shapiros, Snitzers, Speirers, and Weisses. John Bigman, a Miami developer, partnered with builder Max Weiss, and also contributed $500 to the project.

In 1954, Temple Israel of DeLand officially opened at 1001 E. New York Avenue. Harry Shapiro, a dress factory owner and original contributor, was the spiritual leader. In 1969, Jacob Levinson became the new spiritual leader. Levinson’s knowledge and enthusiasm brought many new members to the synagogue. The congregation grew to eighty members, making DeLand an important Jewish center in West Volusia County.

Winston Weilheimer succeeded Levinson as spiritual leader in 1994. He became the rabbi for both Temple Israel in DeLand and Temple Shalom in Deltona. Ten years later, Temple Israel of DeLand celebrated its landmark 50th anniversary on February 7, 2004. One year later in 2005, Rabbi Howard Schwartz became part-time rabbi for Temple Israel of DeLand. Rabbi Schwartz is both a retired Reform rabbi and Army chaplain.

In 2007, Reuven Silverman became the spiritual leader of Temple Israel of DeLand. Reuven brought with him his tremendous love of Judiasm and vast Talmudic knowledge to strengthen our congregation. In early 2014, Reuven was Ordained Rabbi Reuven Silverman - the same year that the Temple celebrated its 60th anniversary! Temple Israel of Deland, is once again, the Jewish center of prayer and learning in West Volusia County.

 

Bibliography:

Dykes, Margie and Rick Tonyan. “Temple Israel celebrates 50 years.” DeLand-Deltona Beacon [Volusia County, Florida]. 2-4 February 2004: 1A+

 

 
1001 E. New York Avenue DeLand, FL 32724386-736-1646
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