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Our History

Our History

The Westchester Jewish Center’s inception can be traced back to the aspirations and vision of a close-knit group of Jewish families in Mamaroneck at the dawn of the 20th century. Its origins can be found in the “Social and Aid Society,” established in 1905 to offer religious and social opportunities and provide assistance to immigrants and those in need. At that time, without a dedicated building, the Society’s members would assemble wherever possible to conduct religious services during holidays, often with the help of a traveling rabbi who held classes for children in a modest shed located behind a building on Mamaroneck Avenue.

Over the course of fourteen years, as this small collective continued to flourish, it evolved into what was known as the Hebrew Institute of Mamaroneck. In 1925, the Institute acquired land near the train station on Halstead Avenue, where they completed the construction of their first official building. A year later, they secured land in Glenville, Connecticut for a private cemetery. Shortly thereafter, the Ladies Auxiliary (Sisterhood) was established.

In 1943, the Westchester Jewish Center welcomed its first full-time, long-term rabbi, Rabbi Irving Koslowe, and his wife, Marly, who wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to enriching the Jewish life of the community. Rabbi Koslowe initiated regular Shabbat services and the formation of youth groups, while Marly became the Sunday School teacher and organized a children’s choir. Adult education and sports programs were also introduced. It soon became evident that the Halstead Avenue building was too constrained for their growing needs. In 1948, a five-acre site was purchased at the corner of Rockland and Palmer Avenues, where the Center stands today.

On April 28, 1949, the congregation officially adopted the name Westchester Jewish Center, reflecting the diversity of its activities and the fact that not all members resided in Mamaroneck. Groundbreaking took place in 1951, and the Center moved into its new facility in September 1954. The original building encompassed a chapel, fifteen classrooms, an auditorium, lounges, offices, and a social hall wing.

In 1966, recognizing the necessity for additional facilities, the congregation made the decision to construct a new Sanctuary, and this endeavor culminated in its dedication two years later, an occasion that also saw Rabbi Koslowe being granted life tenure.

Rabbi Koslowe’s remarkable tenure spanned more than 40 years until his retirement in 1985, at which point Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman assumed leadership within the community. Under Rabbi Segelman’s guidance, the synagogue experienced substantial growth, building upon the foundational work of Rabbi Koslowe. Rabbi Segelman continued to lead the Westchester Jewish Center for over 30 years until his retirement as senior rabbi in 2019.

In July 2019, Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz assumed the role of senior rabbi at the Westchester Jewish Center. He arrived in Mamaroneck from Norfolk, VA, where he had served as the rabbi of Congregation Beth El. Rabbi Arnowitz continues to uphold the Center’s enduring traditions while also proactively addressing the evolving needs of our congregation and the tenets of conservative Judaism.

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