Our synagogue was founded by merchants and professionals in Nyack in 1891 when its services were first held above a storefront on Main Street. We grew in size and met in rented spaces until finally in 1925 we dedicated the first synagogue in lower Rockland: the elegant yellow brick building that still stands at the corner of Hudson Avenue and South Broadway (now a Seventh Day Adventist church).
But after World War II, the rise of suburbia led to the decline of small towns. And just as Nyack typified the earlier success of these towns, it also came to typify the decay. The village almost died as shopkeepers abandoned its once thriving downtown for outlying malls. And for various reasons Sons of Israel was also on the decline.
Then during the late 1950s and early 1960s new suburban development brought an influx of new members to the Congregation. The Hudson Avenue synagogue soon became inadequate, and a new building was begun: the beautiful building on North Broadway that is today our home.
Over the years the Congregation had varied in ritual style: at times tending to be Reform, at times swinging back toward a Conservative style of worship. Unfortunately, internal dissension about worship style intensified in the 1960s and resulted in a near-fatal split in the Congregation, as members desiring a Reform worship left to establish Temple Beth Torah, our Reform neighbor located on Route 9W in Upper Nyack.
In the mid-1960s the old Temple Israel moved up to its new home on North Broadway, became Congregation Sons of Israel and anchored itself firmly as a Conservative synagogue. Over the succeeding years it became fully egalitarian.
In 2011 it proudly dedicated its new Educational Building and celebrated the renovation and beautification of its Social Hall and Kitchen. The new spaces include a Community Room, Multi-Purpose Room, classrooms and a caretaker’s apartment.
Also in 2011 CSI became the first Rockland synagogue to become a member of the Jewish Outreach Institute’s Big Tent, thereby publicly announcing its dedication to inclusiveness and its welcoming of interfaith families, as well as members of the LBGTQ community.
CSI celebrated its 120th Anniversary year in 2011 with joy and enthusiasm. Many new young families with children joined the synagogue. We are proud that in the fall of 2012 we re-opened our Hebrew School with three grades with an enrollment of nearly 20 children. The following year we offered four Hebrew School grades with an enrollment of nearly 30 children. We are especially pleased that our new Jewish Preschool of the Nyacks opened its doors in the Fall of 2012 with a 2 year old class. The following year we offered a 3 year old class as well. Our very successful Gan Katan (Early Childhood) enrichment classes are once again being offered to our littlest ones and their families. In the summers of 2013 and 2014 we offered Fun and Sun, a new day camp-like program for kids ages 1 through 4.
As we move beyond our 120th year, we are strong, growing and proud to be providing a spiritual home to our diverse Community of 200 plus member families and proud to be led by Rabbi Ariel Russo, who joined became our spiritual leader in July 2014.