Synagogues / Temple Emanu-el
Temple Emanu-el was founded in North Buffalo in 1924, and had a number of temporary homes, including 1313 Hertel Avenue, 283 Parkside Avenue,1472 Hertel Avenue,1444 Hertel Avenue, and finally 385 Colvin Ave in 1933. The building at Tacoma was purchased from the former North Park Baptist Church and remodeled by local architect, Louis Greenstein, who also added a bimah. Although it was the first synagogue to be founded in the North Buffalo area that allied with Conservative Judaism, it’s early constitution drafts stated it was organized as “Modern Orthodox (Conservative).”
In 1930, Temple Emanu-el hired its first permanent rabbi: Rabbi Joseph Gitin. Son of east side rabbi of the Pine Street Shul and Anshe Emes, Rabbi Samuel Gitin, the younger Rabbi Gitin led the congregation into a new temple home on Colvin and Tacoma. A series of rabbis served the congregation during the 1930s and early 1950s including Rabbi Nathan Kollin, Rabbi Morris Adler and Rabbi Eli A. Bohnen. Temple Emanu-El had a number of hazzanim, including Cantor Charles S. Gudovitz and Cantor Gildar. In 1953, Rabbi Isaac Klein was appointed Rabbi to Temple Emanu-el and rapidly became the leading force in Conservative Jewry in the Buffalo community. He and his wife Henriette, were driving forces in the founding and running of Kadimah, a Jewish Day school founded in Buffalo in 1959. From 1962, Kadimah divided it’s grade school levels between two sites: Temple Emanu-El on Colvin Avenue and Ahavas Achim on Tacoma Avenue. In addition to his pulpit work, Rabbi Klein was heavily involved in the national leadership of Conservative Judaism, especially the Rabbinic Assembly where he served as President. He was an influential member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, and separately the author of many teshuvot (rabbinic responses to Jewish religious questions asked by laity and clergy). His magnum opus, A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, has been used by successive generations of Conservative Jewish rabbis and their laity.
Many families were associated with Temple Emanuel over the decades including:
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We continue to seek internal and external photographs, documents, film, mementos and written recollections relating to Temple Emanu-El and its members and history for digitization. If you have materials you’d like to make available for this purpose, please contact us.
Our thanks to Temple Beth Tzedek for making their archives available, and to Ferne Mittleman for making her research papers available through the Cofeld Judaic Museum.