Episcopal Church opens its doors to Temple Sinai congregants

Rita LeBleu

Temple Sinai is still under reconstruction because of hurricane damage. Nevertheless, Shabbes (Sabbath) Eve will be celebrated in Lake Charles on Friday, June 25, beginning at 5:30 at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.

“We want to express our profuse gratitude to the Church of the Good Shepherd for allowing us to use their hall,” said Rabbi Baruch (Barry) Barry Weinstein. “We have a relationship that goes way back.”

The Rev. Boo Kay, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd explained: “The church and the temple have a long history going back to 1918 when the winds blew the top off our sanctuary leaving only the flying buttresses. Since our services didn’t coincide with theirs, they welcomed us to use their building until ours could be repaired.”

Only a few blocks separate the locations and Kay has done ecumenical work at the temple in the past.

The hurricanes have been an all-inclusive event. Pentecostal and Baptist churches, the Catholic Cathedral and the Jewish Synagogue were impacted in some way, some completely leveled. This service is a symbol of people worshiping together as fellow human beings,” said the Rev. James “Jim” Lueckenhoff, Church of the Good Shepherd. “The church is alive and well.”

The event will begin with a Pre-Oneg that includes time to renew associations, make new acquaintances, socialize and enjoy light refreshments. The Shabbes Morning Minyan and Torah Study will be held at The Good Shepherd on June 26 from 10 a.m. until noon.

“Traditionally the Oneg Shabbat, meaning Sabbath joy, is after worship,” Weinstein said. “This will give us a chance to socialize before and allow us to get home a little earlier.”  

Weinstein said he and congregants are hoping the Temple Sinai Synagogue will be restored by Sept. 6 for Rosh Hashanah. As many as 40 or 50 congregants have been meeting via YouTube and Zoom, joined by congregants now in San Antonio, Tulsa, Lafayette, Crowley, Dallas and Washington State as well as Lake Charles and Sulphur.

“We have COVID and the hurricanes to thank, in a sense, for allowing us to develop this ability to reach out to so many all around the country,” Weinstein said.

“Community is coming back,” Kay said, “and each of us is taking care of the little bit we can. This is a way to continue to fight the damage caused by the hurricanes, floods and COVID and gives me hope and joy to share what we have.”

St. Michaels Episcopal Church on Sale Street is still undergoing repairs and currently meeting at the new Episcopal Day School chapel in South Lake Charles.

“What we do have, we should share,” Kay said.””

Temple Sinai  is still under reconstruction because of hurricane damage.

Rick Hickman

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