Our legacy and mission is bringing world-renowned scholars, leaders, dignitaries, artists and personalities to audiences in order to inspire, educate, enlighten and entertain.

Our History

Sylvia and Dr. Milton BankoffThe year was 1953. In a home located in a quiet neighborhood in Michigan City, Indiana, the idea for the Sinai Forum was conceived by a determined woman – Sylvia Bankoff, her husband Dr. Milton Bankoff, Rabbi Karl Richter and a small group of inspired community members.

The mission was to provide affordable, exceptional programming on important issues of the day in a town hall setting. With limited funds but limitless zeal, and a cadre of friends from the broader community, they pulled it off.

Our Impact

Since then, Nobel Prize recipients, former heads of state, Pulitzer Prize winners, professional athletes, scientists, nationally recognized media personalities and famous performing artists have graced Sinai Forum’s stage.

  • American author, journalist, and activist Jonathan Rauch told the Forum audience in 2020, “Sylvia Bankoff launched one of the greatest speaking institutions in America and perhaps the one that I feel most privileged to be a part of.”
  • In 2003, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the speaker’s series, Sinai Forum founder Sylvia Bankoff said, “I am hopeful for the future of the Forum. We have good people to work with who will work just as hard defining the future without forgetting people from the past, enlarging our horizon with new formats and community appeal. From our small committee in the Sinai Temple, we have spread community wide. It’s not just the Temple anymore, the Sinai Forum has become much bigger than our original concept, far beyond where we ever thought we would go.”

Who could have imagined that The Forum would draw the caliber of speakers that it has?

For nearly 70 years, such an accomplishment didn’t just happen. It took tremendous amounts of time, energy, professional direction and valuable ideas from our community’s great friends and supporters.

The commitment goes on.

Under the stewardship of Purdue University Northwest (previously Purdue University North Central) and led by Executive Director Leslie Plesac, the Sinai Forum continues its mission to enlighten, inspire and entertain you – our subscribers.

Contact Us

(855) 608-4600


Leslie Plesac

Leslie Plesac

Executive Director of the Sinai Forum


(219) 785-5377

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