Sometime during the year of 1879, when the present city of Lake Charles was a small village of five hundred people, Leopold Kaufman and David Block, two Jews from Washington, Louisiana, migrated to Lake Charles and were the first Jewish residents of the small village. Thus, a Jewish community in Lake Charles began to form.
Temple Sinai’s congregation formed in September of 1894 and until the synagogue was completed, members worshipped in a nearby Masonic Temple until Temple Sinai was erected in 1904. Temple Sinai was built of a beautiful dark red brick with details of white stone around the grand arched entrance that was paired with large towers with onion domes at the end of each facade.
On August 6, 1918, a category 3 hurricane blew through the city of Lake Charles, that ruined homes, damaged crops, and caused millions to be displaced. During the hurricane, Temple Sinai suffered structural damage including the loss of the two onion domes that sat atop the synagogue. Despite the loss of the onion domes, to this day, Temple Sinai still has an eye-catching presence that represents a bold history.
In October 2004, the synagogue was incorporated as Temple Sinai along with its first Board of Trustees elected in 1907, with Leopold Kauman being elected the first president of Temple Sinai.