The Reform Temple of Forest Hills


The Reform Temple of Forest Hills was founded in 1994 when four Forest Hills congregations united under a shared vision.

A group of friends in Kew Gardens founded Temple Isaiah in a house on Kessel Street in 1935; the congregation moved to a building on the Grand Central Parkway service road in 1952. Some of Temple Isaiah’s congregants formed Temple Sinai in 1956, holding services at the Forest Hills Inn in Station Square and religious school classes at the First Presbyterian Church on 112th Street while constructing what is now our Temple’s home. Congregation Beth Hillel was founded in Jackson Heights in 1960 as a small, intimate congregation. Temple Emanu-El, founded in 1948, called Lost Battalion Hall and an Elmhurst movie theater home over the years.

The Reform Temple of Forest Hills sits on a historic site in Forest Hills where Helen Keller lived from 1917 to 1938 in a brick and limestone gabled house she called “our castle on the marsh.”

Our modern sanctuary preserves unique historical features. Temple Sinai’s Rabbi Theodore Ross traveled in 1966 to select a 1,600-pound slab of granite for the temple’s newly constructed sanctuary from Mount Sinai. Egyptian stone-cutters engraved each pair of tablets with the Ten Commandments. They now reside in the upper lobby of RTFH as a reminder of our past and testament to our future.

Five stained glass windows, each representing a holy day or significant festival, originally resided at Temple Isaiah and were dedicated in our congregation in 2000. The artist, Raymond Katz, was born in Hungary in 1909 and emigrated to Chicago at the age of 15. He is widely regarded as one of nation’s finest Jewish artists.

Temple Isaiah’s Rabbi, Mayer Perelmuter, became the Rabbi at the new Reform Temple of Forest Hills in 1995 and continues to serve as Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Mark Kaiserman joined the RTFH family in 2013. Cantor Emily Wigod Pincus joined in 2019.