Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world. -Harriet Tubman
Meet one of the founders and dreamers of Temple Sinai, Ginny Greenblott! She was and still is a force to be reckoned with, according to her husband Art. Both Art and Ginny asked others to join them in founding what is today, Temple Sinai. The other founding members were Alice and Robert Rosenberg Jr., Shirley and Carl Mack, Ellen and Richard Lipson, Gertrude and Jules Leopold, Mark’s parents, Gail and Seymour Paymer, Judith and Dan Potts, Carol and Paul Wasserman, Suzanne and Edwin Grief, Rhoda and Morton Kaufman, and Eva and Harry Rieders. Eva’s father was Ben Zion Black, the artist who painted the Lost Shul Mural which today hangs in the foyer of Ohavi Zedek synagogue in Burlington.
Art and Ginny met in Springfield MA where Art was attending the American International College and Ginny was attending Bay Path College where she got an Associates degree, later finishing her Bachelor’s degree at Trinity in Burlington. After they got married, they moved to Burlington.
Ginny and Art wanted to name our congregation Sinai Temple, after the synagogue in Springfield MA where Ginny went through her conversion to Judaism, but when they went to register the name with the Vermont state authorities, they found out that the Masonic Lodge had already registered that name. So they just switched it around and legally became Temple Sinai.
Art recalls that when he saw how committed Ginny was to Judaism and to the creation of a Reform congregation in Vermont, he could not stand in the way of her quest. Although Art’s parents were disappointed to learn that he was leaving their synagogue, they never opposed what he and Ginny were doing. Ginny’s father passed away when she was 13 and although her mother was an observant Catholic and expressed reservations about Ginny’s conversion to Judaism, she accepted her daughter’s choice.
In 1967 Art became the second President of Temple Sinai. In the late 1960s to 1971, the small congregation met in the gymnasium of South Burlington’s Chamberlain Elementary school for services and 14 year old Mark Leopold served as the Cantor. Initially, the services were conducted by members of the congregation. In an effort to build solidarity and increase membership, Ginny and Art encouraged members to take turns inviting non-members to their homes for dinner. Teenagers were taken on weekend retreats to other youth groups in Montreal. This was a time of exceptional growth and membership involvement.
Ginny’s family is Assyrian. Her father was born in Iran and came to the USA as a young boy with his mother and 2 siblings. Her mother was born in New York and both her parents were of Assyrian descent. Ginny’s parents had an arranged marriage. Ginny spoke Assyrian fluently as a child because her grandmother, who lived with them, only spoke Assyrian.
Ginny grew up in New Britain CT and Art is a native Burlingtonian. Ginny grew up in a large house with 2 families of aunts, uncles and cousins, in addition to her grandmother. She had 1 brother, who is deceased and 2 sisters, one of whom lives in Shelburne VT and the other in San Diego.
Art grew up in the Old North End, which had a sizable Jewish population at the time. His grandmother who spoke only Yiddish lived with Art’s family. She and his grandfather had immigrated to the US from what is now Belarus. Art’s brother, a retired teacher, now resides in Brattleboro VT.
Ginny says that her mother had the strongest influence on her because she helped her understand the importance of family and her father helped her understand the importance of volunteerism and “giving back” to the community. Art feels that Ginny has had the strongest influence on his life, and that through her, he came to have a greater understanding and deeper appreciation of Judaism.
The Greenblotts have have four children, three of whom currently live in the Burlington area. Kara has worked for several non-governmental organizations in Africa, Kevin is a construction worker, and Lisa is a Human Resources professional. Their son Brian currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida, and works at a drug and alcohol recovery center.
Art described his business life in Burlington at his family-owned Burlington Paint and Wallpaper store which his grandfather started in 1927 in the Burlington Old North End. The business was passed on to his father who changed the name to Burlington Paint and Tile and Art joined the business in 1962. In 1971 Art and two partners bought the business from his father and nine months later an arsonist destroyed the building. Undaunted, Art and his partners built a new building on Main street and named it Bard Home Decorating. Three years later Art bought his partners out and Ginny joined him in running the business. Art and Ginny ran the business for 44 years closing the doors in 2007. Perrywinkles jewelry store now occupies the building that was Bard Home Decorating.
In their retirement Ginny and Art enjoy time with their grandchildren, exercising and travel. Ginny loves to play golf and tennis and both of them are fond of socializing with friends. When she has time, Ginny enjoys reading historical novels and weekly news magazines. The Greenblotts have traveled widely, to such places as Florida, California, Africa, Europe and Cuba.
Ginny would like to see more events for young adults and their families at Temple Sinai and Art would like to see more social activities and a variety of adult education classes.
Thank you Ginny and Art for all you do for our Temple. We honor your dedication and want you to know how indebted we are to you both. Without you and the other founding members, there may not have been a Temple Sinai, at least not in its present form.