‘175 Years Ago Today’: A Message from Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson


Dear Friends,

One hundred seventy-five years ago today, April 13, 1845, thirty-three German immigrants, refugees of the despotism surging in Western Europe, founded Temple Emanu-El in a small rented facility downtown on the corner of Clinton and Grand streets. It was the city’s first Reform synagogue, and soon became the model for Reform congregations around the country. Throughout our history, Temple Emanu-El has exemplified — often publicly, but often quietly too — what a holy community can be for American Jewry, world Jewry and the world at large, even during this most challenging moment.

And we will celebrate that history! Obviously, the current crisis prevents us from doing so now, as we tend to much more pressing concerns. Therefore the gathering planned to open our 175th Anniversary — our June 5th Congregational Shabbat at the Central Park Zoo — has been postponed to next June 4th as our anniversary year’s closing event. But, God willing, the time to begin the celebration will come soon, at Chanukah with a special service of rededication currently scheduled for December 11th.

Step by step, we will climb out of the darkness that envelops us now to the light of a better day. And then, in memory of those whose lives have been lost and in gratitude to those who risked their own wellbeing to keep the rest of us safe, we will give thanks and celebrate our congregation’s enduring commitment to the tasks for which we were commissioned one hundred seventy-five years ago: the service of God and God’s Creation.

With sweetest wishes for the Passover holiday, and prayers for your health and safety,

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson