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The Villages

Temple Shalom installs new rabbi as it celebrates 18th anniversary 

Temple Shalom of Central Florida has reached a milestone as it is now 18 years old. In the Jewish religion, this is called “Chai,” which also means “Life.” The Temple celebrated this milestone with a three-day event called a Shabbaton. It included a Chai Ball dinner, the formal installation of new Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein and a concert called “Rabbi Zev and Friends.” 

The Temple has reached this huge milestone starting with a small group called Jewish  Friends in The Villages that has grown to more than 600 members. The group started worshiping at the Oxford Community Center and later went to area churches to worship until the Temple was built.

Villager Sandy Solomon, president of Temple Shalom and one of its founders, welcomed the guests at Thursday’s Chai Ball. The event included a group of the original founders.

Village of Santo Domingo resident Sol Truskin was the first temple president when the building opened and Eleanor Neff was the first Temple Sisterhood president. Sheldon Skurow served as Temple Shalom’s spiritual leader for 16 years.

Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein, right, and Sheldon Skurow, the temple’s longtime spiritual leader.

Villager Melanie Dolan served as the chairman for the three days of events called a Shabbaton since it extended over the Jewish Sabbath Weekend.

Rabbi Sonnenstein was formally installed as the rabbi of Temple Shalom by Rabbi Richard Chizever on Friday at the regular Sabbath, or Shabbat Service. Cantor Tanya Greenblatt brought her beautiful voice to the Friday Night Installation Service.

Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein, right, was installed by Rabbi Richard Chizever.

The Rabbi Zev & Friends Concert included Jewish, Broadway and secular music supported by rabbis, cantors, opera singers and the Temple Shalom choir. Bill Doherty and Michele Uss accompanied the concert and Billie Thatcher was a special guest artist.

The cast from the Rabbi Zev & Friends concert.

Temple Shalom is located at 13563 County Road 101. It is golf cart accessible from The Villages. For more information and a video highlighting some of the temple’s history, go to, email [email protected] or call the office at (352) 748-1800.

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