With the Great Depression came a period of instability for the temple’s Sisterhood and for the temple itself, which functioned for a time without a rabbi. Although Sisterhood disbanded in 1929 and then reorganized in December 1931, its members continued to teach Sunday School. Sisterhood reformed briefly from 1931 to 1932, only to disband again.

In 1933, the temple’s new rabbi, Jacob M. Alkow, encouraged Sisterhood to try one more time. At a meeting hosted by Mignon Schweitzer, Rose Tee was elected president.

In the mid-1930s, Sisterhood stepped in to assist the temple in paying down the mortgage on the building at 847 E Street, establishing a precedent that it would continue in later years. To raise the funds, Sisterhood ran a taxi service to bring local merchants and employees from downtown to the temple, where Sisterhood members cooked and served them meals. The lunches proved popular: according to Marcelle Harris, the usually turnout was 200-250 people. 

Sisterhood continued its financial support of the temple and its activities throughout the remainder of the decade, including purchasing textbooks for the Sunday School. Sisterhood also began to expand its focus; in 1939, it joined the National Federation of Sisterhoods (now called Women of Reform Judaism). It also instituted a welcome committee to help the émigré families who had begun to arrive in San Bernardino.




uso-danceIn the 1940s, Sisterhood continued its work in the larger community and became active in supporting the war effort. Under Winifred Haydis, Sisterhood began purchasing materials for the Red Cross and taking an active role in the USO by supplying refreshments, providing hostesses for USO booths and other activities and assembling comfort kits for soldiers. Sisterhood members were soon meeting weekly to roll bandages and sew and knit items needed by the Red Cross. By early 1942, under Sally Unickel, Sisterhood was coordinating with the B’nai B’rith Auxiliary and the Henrietta Hebrew Benevolent Society to provide volunteers at the local USO center. That year, Sisterhood received a certificate of honor from the USO in recognition of its outstanding war service activity.


It was also during this timeframe that Sisterhood started the condolence committee to provide a meal of condolence to bereaved families, a tradition that continues today. Peggy Feldheym, wife of Rabbi Norman Feldheym, was seen as a driving force behind this.

By this point, annual dues had been raised to $3. The group continued to fund needed items at the temple, including dishes to be used in the community hall. Later in the decade, under Dora Goldstein, Sisterhood purchased a commercial refrigerator for the community hall as well.


1940s B

A highlight of 1947 was the Sisterhood-sponsored musical, “Meet Me at 35th and E,” which raised money for building repairs. The show was the first of several produced for the temple by congregation member George Shane. During World War II, Shane had produced the Army hit show “Hey Rookie,” for which he received a commendation from Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1947 Sisterhood sponsored the musical “Meet Me at 35th and E,” which raised money for repairs for the congregation building.