Temple Beth Shalom
The only Reform Temple in Cape Coral; serving North Fort Myers, Pine Island-Matlacha, and the Greater Fort Myers area.
Note: Although there has been no official historian, our past unfolded from interviews with some of the original members.
In 1971 a small group of people broke away from Temple Beth El, which later moved to Fort Myers. Four of the original group members were Herman Zazlowski, Martin Pearlstein and his wife Sylvia, and Irving Greenfield.
Over the next couple of years, the new congregation met in homes until they rented a storefront, which is now the home of the Cape Coral Power Squadron.
In 1973 they incorporated as the Jewish Community Center of Lee County, and adopted the dba Temple Beth Shalom, which is the only Reform temple in Cape Coral.
Sometime in 1978, Martin Pearlstein convinced the Rosen brothers, the founders of Cape Coral, to donate the land and $5,000 to construct a new synagogue at the present location. As the force behind the building of the Temple, the Rosen brothers were honored with the cornerstone plaque, next to the front doors. Other large donors were Herman Zazlowski, a very generous contributor to the building fund, and attorney-congregant, Morris Fox, who also donated his services as advisor to all the legal proceedings, which continued until his death in 2005.
Our first rabbi was Rabbi Samuel Silver, a highly recognized, educated, and world renowned rabbi. When he left for Florida’s east coast, Rabbi Portner led our congregation until he departed for upstate New York. He was followed by Rabbi Cohen, who served this congregation for many years. He became a recognized leader in Cape Coral’s interfaith community, and he established the Interfaith Holocaust Memorial Park, located on the south end of the Temple grounds. He was also a starting member of the Jewish War Veterans Post 400, which met at Temple Beth Shalom.
Presently, Temple Beth Shalom is blessed with the leadership of Rabbi Devora Buchen, the congregation’s first female rabbi and the longest serving. She leads the congregation and choir, helps with religious school curriculum, conducts B’nai Mitzvot classes, teaches Saturday morning Torah study, and officiates at life ritual events.
Rabbi Buchen’s religious career began as a cantor in Venice, where she also performed the duties of a rabbi. She moved on to be a cantor at the Conservative Temple Judea in Fort Myers. When her husband Irv convinced her to expand her cantorial duties by saying “Why don’t you become a Rabbi,” she did! Rabbi Buchen was hired in 2003, and immediately became an ‘institution’, bringing her love of music, her love of children, her love of people, her love of G-d, and her love of Judaism altogether under the roof of Temple Beth Shalom.
To know her is to love her, and to pray and learn under her is to enjoy the most beauty, the most pleasantness, and most positive attitude any Jew can attain.