As the temple’s membership grew to about 600 families in the 1980s, Sisterhood’s role continued to grow in importance. 1n 1980, Gloria Cutler, who had served as Sisterhood president from 1969 to 1970, became the temple’s first female president – a path that has been followed by many Sisterhood presidents since then.
Two years later, Sisterhood president Sherri Vines achieved another significant “first” for Sisterhood by working with Mrs. Cutler’s successor, Hap Harris, to advocate that Sisterhood be a voting member of the temple’s board of directors and also become a member of the temple’s executive committee. “For me, that was the biggest thing – we finally had a voice!” Mrs. Vines recalled. “We weren’t a separate entity any longer.”
Sisterhood members Jill Marks, Leslie Levine, Leslie Soltz (president, 1981-1982),
Ann Wilcox, Joyce Eskin and Ida Rosen.
When the temple began to computerize during the 1980s, Sisterhood raised funds for the necessary office equipment.
Even as Sisterhood continued to grow and change with the times, it continued its outreach to support temple members facing changes of their own.
Mrs. Vines, who was Sisterhood president three times in all (1982-1984, 1988-1989 and 2001-2002), remembered the emphasis placed on welcoming newcomers: “Whenever there was a new or potential temple member, I’d get a note from the office and we’d prepare a basket with challah, wine, candles and a Sisterhood directory and bring it to their house to welcome them.”
Another important function was the condolence committee, added Shelley Silver, who was Sisterhood president from 1985 to 1987. “We would have members back at the house during the memorial service, both to protect the house from being robbed and to set up lunch for the mourners. We provided a light dairy lunch for 50 people and also kept track of what people brought.
“This was one of our most necessary and revered activities,” Mrs. Silver said. “We were there to do whatever was needed – I remember being at someone’s house once and being asked to iron a dress.”
Sisterhood also had a committee for visiting temple members in convalescent homes, she recalled.
In 1983, Sisterhood brought back the Candlelight Ball
One of the highlights of 1983 was the Candlelight Ball, which Sisterhood brought back in honor of Rabbi Hillel Cohn’s 20th anniversary serving the congregation and the community. The event, which Sisterhood co-sponsored with the temple’s board of directors, was held at the San Bernardino Hilton.
Later, in recognition of his longtime support of Sisterhood, Rabbi Cohn was made a lifetime member.
Both Mrs. Silver and Mrs. Vines remember the support of their predecessors, including Bernice Berenbaum, Shirley Kaufman and Evelyn Sandler, as being an indispensable part of Sisterhood. “We took great pride in our matriarchs,” Mrs. Silver said.
A gathering of Sisterhood presidents: Shelley Silver and Lenore Schon (top row);
Shirley Kaufman Forman, Cherrie Lubey, Barb Smith, Nancy Darling (second row);
Sunny Rabenstock, Julie Strain, Evelyn Sandler (third row);
Bernice Berenbaum, Sally Unickel, Sylvia Becker, Eleanor Eisenberg, Thelma Press, Sylva Kord (bottom row)
“Sisterhood had so much camaraderie,” she recalled. “We had a lot of young families back then, and the moms would bring their babies – we would even bring the playpens. We were the heart and soul of the congregation.”