Congregation Emanu El is a Reform synagogue affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. Our building, in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, was designed by congregant Lenard Gabert and MacKie & Kamrath Architects. It was recognized as one of the most innovative and creative buildings in the country. It originally contained 65,000 square feet of floor space with a Sanctuary seating 855 and a connecting social hall seating an additional 1800.
Founded in 1944 on principles of support for Israel and the freedom of expression of both pulpit and pew, the Preamble to our By-Laws has remained unchanged to this day.
The first meeting was held June 8, 1944, by 190 families. Nathan J. Klein was elected President. The name Emanu El, meaning God Be With Us, was chosen for the congregation. Our building and location are both tangible expressions of the vision and foresight of our founders. The property at 1500 Sunset was purchased in 1945, and the building was dedicated September 9, 1949.
Rabbi Robert I. Kahn was invited to lead the congregation and served as rabbi until 1978 when he was named Rabbi Emeritus and Rabbi Roy A. Walter was selected as Senior Rabbi. On the occasion of Rabbi Walter being named Rabbi Emeritus in 2011, the congregation selected Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss to become Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Hausman-Weiss continued in this role until 2013. Rabbi Marc Disick was named Interim Senior Rabbi in 2014. In June of 2015, Rabbi Oren Hayon joined Emanu El as our Senior Rabbi.
The Freda & Jackie Proler Chapel and Robert I. Kahn Gallery, designed by Clovis Heimsath, were dedicated in 1975. The gallery, one of the first synagogue art galleries in the country, provides a permanent display area for the temple’s vast art collection as well as for special exhibits.