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Temple Sinai is the synagogue of the oldest Jewish congregation in Oakland, First Hebrew Congregation

The current building was completed in 1914, and was designed by Gustave Albert Lansburgh, who was best known for designing movie theaters and other structures like the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. On December 13, 1994 the Temple Sinai was designated Oakland Landmark, #118, Zoning Case #LM 94-215.


Jewish Synagogue (1889)1
[13th and Clay Streets]
The First Hebrew Congregation of Oakland was formed in 1875 and grew out of Oakland's Hebrew Benevolent Society. The first temple, located at 14th and Webster, was constructed in 1877 but was destroyed by a fire in 1885. The congregation then constructed a new synagogue on the northeast corner of 13th and Clay Streets. Rev. M. S. Levy was the Rabbi in 1887. In 1895, the congregation sold the now valuable property on Clay Street and in 1896 moved the building to a less-expensive site on the northwest corner of 12th and Castro Streets. The temple was rededicated in 1896. 2

The congregation laid the cornerstone for the current sanctuary at 28th and Webster Streets in 1913, and dedicated the building in 1914. Beginning with the 100th anniversary of the laying of the sanctuary's cornerstone during the fall of 2013 and throughout 2014, the congregation will be holding a Centennial Celebration for the sanctuary.

The congregation has included a number of notable Oaklanders, including Gertrude Stein, the Kahn brothers (of Kahn's Department Store) and Abraham Jonas (served as president of both the Merchants' Exchange of Oakland and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, among other civic activities). Rabbi Rudolph Coffee was rabbi from 1921 to 1934.

Sinai Memorial Chapel owns and operates Home of Eternity Cemetery adjacent to Mountain View Cemetery. You can reach the office at (925) 962-3636.

temple being moved to 12th and Castro 3


Temple Sinai practices Reform Judaism and is generally quite progressive. The temple participates in many interfaith and civic activities.


The dome in the sanctuary is featured in the mural Jewish Cultural Experience.

There is a church nearby with almost identical architecture and design.


The official address for Temple Sinai is 2808 Summit Street, although the main entrance for the sanctuary is on 28th Street, and the entrance to the parking lot is from Webster Street. The temple recently updated and expanded the grounds. Sinai includes a daycare and religious school facility.


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Links and References

  1. Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division
  2. A Swell Synagogue Oakland Tribune September 4, 1896
  3. Synagogue being moved, Oakland UC Berkeley Bancroft Library