The Jewish Temple
Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim
2021 Turner Street
Alexandria, Louisiana 71301
Member of Central Conference of American Rabbis
Member of American Conference of Cantors
Rabbi Raina Siroty grew up in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in vocal performance with highest honors from the University of California in Santa Barbara. Raina enrolled in the Cantorial program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York where she received a Masters in Sacred Music in 2009 and was ordained as a Cantor in 2010. She started her professional career in 2010 as a Cantor at Shomer Emunim, a 500-family congregation in Toledo, Ohio.
In 2012, she went back to seminary and entered the Rabbinical program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. She received a Master in Hebrew Letters in May 2014 and her rabbinical ordination in May 2017. During Rabbinical school she worked as auxiliary clergy at Temple Isaiah leading services, a Bereavement Group, filled in for Torah Study and library Minyan as well as an ongoing B’nai Mitzvah tutor and Cantor officiating at B’nai Mitzvah services. She also served as a Chaplain at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, an Associate Professor of Synagogue Music and T’fillah Advisor at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. She served yearly as a High Holy Day Cantor for several synagogues in need around the country,
Rabbi Siroty is most passionate about music in prayer. She believes music is the pulse of Jewish spirituality and the heart and soul of every service. It transcends the physical as it connects individuals one to another, forming a community. Rabbi Siroty adds her unique voice to the collective voice, bringing enthusiasm and passion for Judaism and music.
Since 2010, Rabbi Siroty has been serving as the solo Rabbi and Cantor of our congregation. She is the first woman Rabbi of this congregation since it was established in 1859. She also serves as the Rabbi for Central Louisiana and for the Fort Polk Army Base. Rabbi Siroty is the immediate past President of SWARR, the Southwestern Association of Reform Rabbis. She has recently taught as an Alumni seminar instructor of "History of Reform Judaism" for rabbinical and cantorial students at HUC-JIR, and is presently finishing a graduate certificate in Gerontology and Palliative Care at Yeshiva University. She is a founding member of Alexandria's Interfaith Assembly, serves as a Board Member of the Central Louisiana Fostering Community, and has served every summer as faculty at Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Jackson, Mississippi.
Our Rabbi owns a historic home in the Garden District of Alexandria, Louisiana built in 1927 by Temple congregants, Morris and Hannah Weiss, Jewish immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She is the proud mother to her son, Gabriel, born in 2016, who is presently attending Kindergarten.
RABBI ARNOLD S. TASK - "Arny" to most everyone - served 22 years as Rabbi of Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim, from 1989 to 2011. On retirement, he was named Rabbi Emeritus. He and his wife Judy elected to continue their residence in Alexandria, where they are actively involved in many aspects of our community.
Rabbi Task is a Rotarian, and was awarded the Four Avenues of Service Award in 2007. He has served as President of the Central LA Minister's Association, the Family Counseling Agency, Angel Care, and the Louisiana Maneuvers & Military Museum. For almost 40 years, he has lectured and taught Judaism and Holocaust studies at the college level. In fact his life's work and his legacy includes the teaching of Holocaust studies to students and adults; he co-hosts the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, and has played a major role in the planning, funding and finally, the realization of a Holocaust Memorial in downtown Alexandria, LA.
RABBI MARTIN ISAIAH HINCHIN served our Congregation from 1958 to 1988, and our memories are fond ones. Hinchin is currently living in Memphis where he moved after his retirement. The child of Ukrainian immigrants, Rabbi Hinchin was born and raised in Philadelphia. After his ordination, Hinchin served Jewish congregations in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, where he served our Congregation as Rabbi for 31 years. “’I fell in love with the people of the South,’ said Hinchin. Along the way he met such historic and beloved Southern figures as a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Louisiana’s “singing governor” Jimmie Davis, and Huey Long’s “crazy” brother, former governor Earl K. Long, “He called me ‘Preacher."
One of Hinchin's finest achievements was his book, "Fourscore and Eleven", History of the Jews of Rapides Parish from 1828 to 1919, which he completed in 1984 in time for the celebration of our Congregation’s 125th Birthday. It is a collection of historical records, legal deeds and documents, generous newspaper accounts of social and life cycle events, and a sign of the times of each of the years covered by the book. If you would like a copy; they are $15. each. Please contact the Temple office.