A small group of Jewish pioneers got together and imagined what, up to that point, seemed an impossibility – to build a synagogue in Palm Beach. Led by Benjamin Lehr z”l, and supported by several of the Christian clergy in town, a charter was granted in 1963 and Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach was born! It had 45 charter members.
Shabbat Services were first held in the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. The first congregational Passover Seder was held at the Stouffer’s Town House restaurant. And the congregation’s first High Holy Day Services – complete with a choir of eight women – took place at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse.
In 1964, Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach moved into its first home – comprised of two storefronts – on Sunrise Avenue. Six short years later, it became obvious to everyone that this smaller space would not suffice much longer. The congregation was growing rapidly. Funds were quickly raised and the present site of the synagogue at 190 N. County Road was acquired. The synagogue was dedicated on March 24, 1974.
Twenty years of growth led to the expansion of the synagogue and the building of its beautiful new sanctuary in the mid-1990’s.
It has been many years since Temple Emanu-El’s first Shabbat service. During that time, thousands of members and tens of thousands of guests have been enriched by Temple Emanu-El’s warmth and spirituality, and hundreds of Jewish children have learned about the joys of Judaism.
This tradition of learning and community continues to this day.