Reflections of our past as we build toward our future

This page includes posts from the Bernard Museum of Judaica spanning Temple Emanu-El’s history in New York City.

In April 2020, Temple Emanu-El celebrated its 175th anniversary, and we will continue to celebrate this milestone with special events, posts, and more. The below posts are all made possible by the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica and Temple Emanu-El’s archival collections. For more information, contact .

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Did you ever think you would see Temple Emanu-El in a comic book? @bernardmuseumofjudaica #MuseumFromHome #EmanuelAtHome In volume 2 issue 8 of Marvel Comic’s The Thing, the superhero (Ben Grimm) has a bar mitzvah, where else but at Emanu-El. Grimm agrees to celebrate his bar mitzvah, since it has been 13 years since he began his "second life" as the Thing. The artists used the exterior of our building in the comic, while the inside, possibly a different synagogue was used as the setting. Glimpses of our buildings are represented in newspapers, photographs, postcards, playing cards, subway advertisements and even comic books. Our magnificent structure, completed over 90 years ago still represents a statement for not just our congregation but for American Jews, that we are here and here to stay, that we can build a permanent home just as grand and opulent as any other structure on Fifth Avenue, on the greatest street, in the greatest city, in the greatest country. Keep your eyes peeled for more representations of Emanu-El, you never know where they might be hiding! Marvel Comics The Thing Vol. 2 #8 August 2006 Museum Purchase Fund [CEE 14-04] . . . . #jewish #jewishcommunity #jewishlife #judaism #reformjudaism #synagogue #comicbookart #comicartwork #comicgeek #comicollection #igcomicfan #firstappearance #comicover #superheroart #superheroes #thething #bengrimm #marvelcomics #marvelart #marveluniverse #marvelcomic #marvelfan #marvelheroes #barmitzvah #marvelfans #marvelsuperheroes #comicbooknerd

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Today's @bernardmuseumofjudaica #MuseumFromHome is Admiral Lewis L. Strauss (1896-1974). #EmanuelAtHome Strauss served as president of the congregation from 1938-1949 and was a businessman, philanthropist, naval officer and public official. He began his career in public service when he volunteered to serve without pay as Herbert Hoover's assistant when Hoover was the head of the US Food Administration. Strauss was soon promoted to Hoover's private secretary where he made powerful contacts that would serve him later on. Strauss was a leader in many Jewish causes and organizations. In 1933 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the American Jewish Committee and prior to that he worked with the JDC to help relieve the suffering of Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe. Strauss had a successful career working for Kuhn and Loeb where he became a partner in 1941. He eventually served as acting US Secretary of Commence under Eisenhower from 1958-59. As president of Emanu-El he served our congregation well, making many important connections within the community and the wider network of Jews in positions of power and those able to make change for American Jewry. Photograph of Admiral Lewis Strauss by Underwood and Underwood, Washington, DC, ca. 1940 Temple Emanu-El Photo Archvie [P570] . . . . #photoarchive #archivesofinstagram #admiral #publicservice #ajc #jdc #jewish #jewishlife #jewishhistory #jewishmuseum #jewish #judaism #reformjudaism #digitalarchive #archivephoto #blackandwhiteart #blackandwhiteportrait #blackandwhitestyle #oldphotography #oldphotos #eisenhower #hoover #headshotphotography #portraitfolk #portraitfeed #portraitphoto #portraitinspiration #portraituniverse

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One fascinating area is our @Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica collection of 19th century marriage contracts issued by the congregation. #MuseumFromHome #EmanuelAtHome Our earliest example, seen here, is from 1854, just nine years after the congregation was founded in 1845. The document records the marriage between Joseph Stern and Augusta Ochs on March 12, 1854 and it is signed by Emanu-El’s first rabbi, Leo Merzbacher. Of special interest on this document is the vignette above the text of a wedding couple being wed by a rabbi. Some scholars have thought that this scene was set inside Emanu-El sanctuary of the time, at 56 Chrystie Street. It is also a glimpse into the style of dress of the day. Notice the rabbi’s outfit and the top hats. Of further interest is the use of an abbreviated text of the traditional Aramaic text of a ketubbah as well as the early use of English as the translation. Further investigation into our collection we see by the late 1860s the Aramaic text is removed from the contract altogether. Temple Emanu-El Marriage Contract New York, 1854 Printed on paper, ink and gilt, congregational seal Gift of the Stern Family [CEE 29-58] . . . . #jewish #jewishhistory #jewishmuseum #jewishlife #jewishpeople #judaica judaism #reformjudaism #EmanuEl175 #marriagecontract #weddingdiaries #ketubah #archivesofinstagram #weddingcollection #marriagestory #marriagegoals #marriages #marriagelife #rabbi #lowereastside #lowereastsidenyc #oldnewyork #aramaic #19thcentury #vintageprints #inkandpaper #inkonpaper #artprints #artworkoftheday

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In 1868 the congregation completed its first building from the ground up, located on the northwest corner of 43rd Street and Fifth Avenue. @bernardmuseumofjudaica #MuseumFromHome #Emanuel175 By the mid-1860s the congregation had grown substantially, making the move a necessity. This depiction and article from Harper’s Weekly, November 14, 1868 maintains the famous drawing of the completed Temple. Seating capacity was just over 1,500 and the neighborhood, as reflected in the image, was considered rural at the time. Dedication services were held on September 11, 1868 to a filled sanctuary. The building was designed by Henry Fernbach and Leopold Eidlitz, Jewish architects who designed the building in the Neo-Moorish style, popular among European synagogues at the time. The 43rd Street Building, served the congregation for just under sixty years until it was sold and demolished as the congregation made way for our current building. [CEE 84-16] Gift of Graham R. Hodges . . . . #jewish #judaism #reformjudaism #jewishhistory #jewishheritage #synagogue #nyclandmarks #emanuelathome #shul #nychistory #5thavenue #5thave #nycbuildings #19thcentury #19thcenturyart #19thcenturyarchitecture #architecturedrawing #architecturaldrawing #architecturedaily #magazineart #magazinedesign #moorish #moorisharchitecture #manhattannyc #nyc_explorers #oldnewyork #newyorkart #jewishart

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#otd yesterday Dr. Smauel Adler, Emanu-El’s second rabbi died in 1891. @bernardmuseumofjudaica #MuseumFromHome #EmanuelAtHome Adler was born in 1809 in Worms. He was educated by his father Isaac, also a rabbi. His first rabbinic appointment was in Alzey, Germany in 1842. He served that community until 1857 when he was called to Emanu-El. Services were still conducted in German when Adler began his pulpit. Adler was instrumental in revising the prayerbook of his predecessor Leo Merzbacher, the museum’s collection has several of these prayerbooks including an early first edition. Adler was a Talmudic scholar and was committed to translating his scholarship into social action. His extensive library was donated to HUC upon his death, his son Felix became the founder of the Society for Ethical Culture. Graphite Portrait of Rabbi Samuel Adler New York, circa 1860 [CEE 85-51] . . . . #EmanuEl175 #rabbi #jewish #judaism #reformjudaism #jewishhistory #jewishart #jewishmuseum #jewishlife #jewishpeople #judaica #judiacamuseum #museumcollection #talmud #germanhistory #19thcentury #19thcenturyart #arthistorynerd #paintingaday #paintingoncanvas #paintingfun #museumart #museumlover #graphiteart #graphitedrawing #immmigrantstories #immigrants

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Celebrating our 175th Anniversary with today's @bernardmuseumofjudaica #MuseumFromHome. #EmanuelAtHome In 1927 Congregation Emanu-El merged with Congregation Beth-El, both great New York City Reform congregations with long histories of community involvement, dedication to Judaism and the city of New York. They consolidated and built our majestic 65th Street building. Beth-El’s history dates to the 1874, it was an amalgamation of two synagogues: Adas Jeshurun and Anshe Chesed. Many people don’t realize that Beth-El also built their first building from the ground up on Fifth Avenue, just as Emanu-El had done in 1868. Beth-El built theirs in 1891 on the corner of 76th Street and Fifth Avenue. It was a large imposing edifice that dominated the Fifth Avenue skyline in the decades before great apartment buildings would. It is represented here on this Central Park postcard from the beginning of the 20th century. The building was designed by Arnold Brunner. Color postcard of Boys Lake, Central Park and Temple Beth El, N.Y. City New York, 1901 Museum Purchase [CEE 14-17] #EmanuEl175 #BethEl #museumcollection #museumarchives #jewish #jewishhistory #synagogue #shul #nyclandmark #judaism #reformjudaism #jewishmuseum #judaicamuseum #judaica #centralparknyc #nychistory #oldnewyork #fifthavenue #vintagenewyork #newyorkart #artnewyork #jewishart #nycartscene #cityart #newyorkskyline

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Lazare Saminsky (1882-1959) served as Music Director at Emanu-El from 1924-1959. From our @bernardmuseumofjudaica photo archives. #MuseumFromHome #EmanuelAtHome He was a well-known Ukrainian-born composer who wrote symphonies and opera, as well as choral compositions and many works for the synagogue that are still used to this day in our worship services. This photo from our archives, ca. 1950, Saminsky is in our choir loft rehearsing with the Temple Emanu-El choir. Temple Emanu-El Photo Archive [P690] . . . . #jewish #jewishmusic #worshipmusic #worshipsong #worshipleader #jewishpeople #jewishtradition #jewishheritage #judaism #reformjudaism #choirdirector #choirlife #choirmusic #choralmusic #musiccomposer #compoerslife #composers #musicdirector #symphony #ukrainian #ukrainian_insta

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#MuseumFromHome from our @bernardmuseumofjudaica photo archives. #EmanuelAtHome Our Goldsmith Building was completed and dedicated in 1964. Because of the growth of our congregation and our Religious School in the late 1950s and early 1960s the congregation saw a need for expansion. Luckily the property on East 66th Street was secured, and we built an adjoining building to our Community House. Today the Goldsmith building still houses our department of Lifelong Learning, Nursery School and Lowenstein Sanctuary where many of our Streicker events take place. Seen here is the groundbreaking of the building in 1962 with Rabbis Mark and Perilman and Leon Lowenstein. Temple Emanu-El Photo Archive [P445] . . . . #archives #templearchives #archivesofinstagram #goldsmith #religiousschool #judaica #judaicaart #judaicamuseum #jewishphotographers #jewishart #jewishmuseum #jewishpeople #jewishhistory #judaism #reformjudaism #museumarchive

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Today's #MuseumFromHome from @bernardmuseumofjudaica #EmanuelAtHome L. G. Strand Stereograph of Temple Emanu-El, 43rd Street (Jewish Synagogue Fifth Avenue) New York, ca. 1890 The stereograph, otherwise known as the stereogram, stereoptican, or stereo view, was the nineteenth-century predecessor of the Polaroid, with an imaginative flair. Placed on cardboard were two almost identical photographs, side by side, to be viewed with a stereoscope. When viewed through a stereoscope, the photograph appeared three-dimensional, an awe-inspiring illusion for anyone during that time. Museum Purchase Fund [CEE 16-15] . . . #stereograph #collection #synagoguemuseum #Emanuel175 #fernbach #museumcollection #photography #stereogram #synagoguearchitecture

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Happy 177th Birthday to the German-born, scholar, theologian, Rabbi Kaufman Kohler! #MuseumFromHome #EmanuelAtHome Kohler was Temple Beth-El’s rabbi from 1879 until 1903 when he became the president of @hucjir Hebrew Union College. He was a major innovator in the Reform Judaism. Kohler died on January 28, 1926. From our @bernardmuseumofjudaica collection is this commemorative cup, made in the Egyptian revival style by the Gorham Company. Presented to Kohler on his birthday in 1913. The inscription reads: The Central Conference of American Rabbis to its honorary president Rev. Dr. Kaufman (sic) Kohler on the completion of the seventieth year of his life as a testimonial of its esteem and its appreciation of his distinguished career as a scholar, theologian and active rabbi. May 10, 1913, 3 Iyar 5673. Gift of Ms. Lili Kohler, daughter of Kaufmann Kohler [CEE 56-04] . . . . #judaism #jewishpeople #jewishlife #jewishhistory #jewishmuseum #rabbi #reformjudiasm #kaufmannkohler #bethel #CCAR #HUC #gorhamsilver #jewish #judaica #judaicamuseum #jewishart #egyptianstyle #urj #jewishlifeinyourlife #theologian #scholar #egyptianrevival

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#MuseumFromHome showing off one of the few interior images of Temple Beth-El before it merged into one synagogue with Emanu-El. In fact, this is the only image of the interior in our @bernardmuseumofjudaica collection. #EmanuelAtHome . Interior of Temple Beth-El, the opening of the new building at 76th Street and Fifth Avenue, 1891. While the exterior of the building was an imposing uptown edifice and could be seen from Central Park, very few images were taken from inside. This particular image comes from an illustrator at Century Magazine covering an article about the Jews of New York. “The Jews in New York” The Century Magazine, vol. XLIII, no. 8 (January 1892). . Temple Emanu-El Photo Archive [P866] . . . . #BethEl #oldNewYork #synagogue #architecture #synagoguearchitecture #BethEl #centurymagazine #archives #templearchives #archivesofinstagram #jewish #jewishmuseum #jewishhistory #nychistory #gildedage #judaism #reformjudaism

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#OTD 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. . Step by step, we will climb out of the darkness that envelops us now to the light of a better day. Together, we will celebrate that history. #175Years #EmanuelAtHome #MuseumFromHome . Read the rest of Rabbi Joshua Davidson's letter here: emanuelnyc.org/175years . . . . #judaism #reformjudaism #jewish #jewishcommunity #jewishhistory #jewishlife #jewishandproud #jewishpeople #jewishheritage #nyclandmarks #shul #synagogue #nychistory #congregation #OTDIH

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Confirmation Classes

Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah. Traditionally part of Reform congregations’ services honors our confirmands in a ceremony of Confirmation, a culmination of their Jewish learning. Ninety years ago in 1930, the first class of confirmation students to be confirmed in our Fifth Avenue Sanctuary took place. While we can’t be together in person, we look back at some of the photos of confirmation classes of years past.