9.4 Hollywood, Florida
Temple Beth Sholem, 1723 Monroe Street
Martin Wohl, architect, 1953

Tichnor Bros., Boston, Massachusetts, no date; also on the back: “Harrison Photo”

Little is known about this congregation and, other than the image itself, about the building shown. Hollywood, Florida, located north of Miami, was founded as an entirely new planned city by developer Joseph Young in early 1920s. Most development took place after World War II, which was also the time when many Jews from northern states began to settle there. By the 1960s, there were two Conservative synagogues and one Reform temple. Temple Beth Sholem (House of Peace) was founded around 1952. According to a local newspaper, construction of this building was to begin in October of that year.1 Architect Martin Wohl moved to Hollywood from New York in 1930 and worked as an architect and developer.

The simple modern structure is very much in keeping with the Art Deco and Art Moderne trends common around Miami in the pre–World War II years. We see here a free-standing sanctuary, built as simple box, with a front corner entrance tower marked with a painted menorah and Magen David (Star of David). On the main street facade there are three tall windows, almost full height, over which is written in large bold letters the name of the congregation. Significantly, the card shows the sanctuary with all its many windows open, reminding us that most synagogues—even in Florida—were not air-conditioned until the 1960s or later. What looks like a single-story portico flanks the side of the sanctuary facing a parking lot. In 1966, the congregation announced a building campaign to allow construction of new classrooms, a larger social hall, general offices, a new library, and a youth lounge, presumably still on this site.

By the 1980s, however, demographics in Hollywood had changed, and the baby boom that had fueled the growth of all the city’s congregations in the 1950 and 1960s had ended. Both of Hollywood’s Conservative congregations were confronting financial difficulties and Temple Beth Sholem (also referred to as Beth Shalom) closed. Temple Sinai, the other Conservative congregation, traded its property for Temple Beth Sholem’s premises, and, in effect, the congregations merged. By this time, Temple Beth Sholem was located on North 46th Avenue, an area where members of both congregations lived. It is not known when Beth Sholem moved to 46th Avenue, nor what became of its 1950s-era building.

1 Hollywood Sun-Tattler, October 1952.