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The Evolution of Temple Emanuel


This Franklin Road building was Temple
Emanuel's home from 1905 to 1937.
Although no official records were kept until 1893,
the congregation of Temple Emanuel had its
origins in 1889 when 18 Roanoke families met in
an upstairs room on Henry Street. They worshipped there until 1895, when they moved to a hall above
10 West Campbell Avenue.
In 1905 the congregation purchased the United
Brethren Church on Franklin Road. It was
dedicated as a home for Temple Emanuel on
Sept. 26, 1905.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Temple's
new home on Persinger Road took place on
Feb. 16, 1958.
Temple Emanuel's congregation moved to
McClanahan Place in 1937
In 1937 the first building erected by the Temple
Emanuel congregation was built on McClanahan
Place, with Rabbi Maurice Goldblatt (may his
memory be for a blessing) occupying the pulpit.
The Temple was dedicated Oct. 29, 1937. The congregation remained here for more than two decades.
The site for a new Temple building was
purchased on July 6, 1955. After a successful fundraising
campaign, groundbreaking
Feb. 16, 1958.
On Oct. 30, 1959, the approximately 100-family
congregation of Temple Emanuel gathered for
the dedication of a new and beautiful house of
worship on Persinger Road.
Temple Emanuel on Persinger Road,
as it looked from 1959 to 2001.
Since moving to Persinger Road in 1959, our
congregation has continued to grow and change.


Over the past five decades the congregation of Temple Emanuel has been privileged to be associated with the following Rabbis: Abraham Sheingold, 1960-65Donald Berlin, 1965-71; Barry Silberg, 1971-74; Gerry Walter, 1974-84; and Frank Muller, 1985-95. Rabbi Kathy Cohen, our present Rabbi, began her service to our congregation on May 1, 1996.

During this period, major changes and innovations have taken place reflecting the trend within American Reform Judaism and the Roanoke community as a whole. In 1968, Allen S. Levin (may his memory be for a blessing) became the first full-time cantor to serve the congregation. He served as Cantor Emeritus from 1982 until his passing in 2009. In 1979, Rabbi Gerry Walter became the first Rabbi in Roanoke to be elected President of the Roanoke Ministerial Conference, which, in the past, did not accept Rabbis as members. There has been a transition from purely classical Reform to more traditional observances.

A close relationship has existed between Temple Emanuel and the Conservative congregation, Beth Israel Synagogue. Since 1979, we have shared the responsibility of the Jewish Community Religious School. While our building underwent a major renovation, their congregation graciously offered their facilities for our services and other gatherings.

We are proud to have a very supportive and successful Sisterhood. Through the decades, the Sisterhood has been the backbone of this congregation. Our more recently formed Brotherhood is a growing source of support and pride for us all.

Temple Emanuel continues to operate with optimism and enthusiasm, confident that our first 120 years are but a prelude to an even richer, nobler future.


Our Building

For more info about our building, click here.


Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784