Temple Beth El of San Antonio, Texas
In 1870, the first Reform Congregation began meeting in the old Ruellmann Hall on East Commerce Street.
Shortly thereafter, the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society of San Antonio was founded.
In 1874, Temple Beth-El of San Antonio was officially founded, making it the oldest synagogue in South Texas.
The founders of Temple Beth-El included: Abraham Frank, M. Halff, Samuel Mayer, Louis Zork, Max Goldfrank, and Daniel and Anton Oppenheimer.
The first building of Temple Beth-El was built at the corner of Jefferson and Travis.
A second building was constructed in 1902, at the same location.
Around 1919, a new building was constructed at Belknap Place and West Ashby Street.
The basic building was completed in 1927. There have been many additions since.
Unlike most early congregations, the Rabbis of Temple Beth-El tended toward long term affiliations with the synagogue and Jewish community.
However, there were other Rabbis who served for a short time since the synagogue’s beginning. So not all of the Rabbis have had a long term affiliation
From 1897 to 1920, for 23 years, the synagogue was served by Rabbi Samuel Marks.
From 1923 to 1942, Rabbi Ephriam Frisch led the congregation for 19 years.
In 1938, Rabbi David Jacobson became a Rabbi of Temple Beth-El. He served the congregation for 38 years until 1976.
Rabbi Samuel Stahl served the congregation for 26 years from 1976 to 2002, growing the congregation to 1,100 families, and still serves as Rabbi Emeritus.
Rabbi Melanie Aron, the first female Rabbi to work in Texas, was the rabbinical intern for Temple Beth-El in 1979.
Rabbi Barry H.D. Block served the congregation from 1992 to 2013, 21 years.
Currently, Temple Beth-El is one of the few synagogues in North America with an all-female clergy.
Rabbi Maria Nathan became the Senior Rabbi in in 2014, working with Rabbi Marina Yergin, and Cantor Julie Berlin.
Temple Beth-El’s website is www.beth-elsa.org [Click on it]
Samantha Silver is Curator for this Temple Beth-El of San Antonio exhibit.
Family pictures would be appreciated.
Be sure to share this exhibit on your facebook page so others hear about the Jewish Museum of the American West.