Emanuel Schreibner: First Official “Reform” Rabbi of Los Angeles

Rabbi Emanuel (Ephraim) Schreiber

Emanuel Schreiber, the 2nd rabbi of Los Angeles and 1st Reform rabbi

Values Codes I – H – E – L – P 

Emanuel Schreiber was born in Leipnik, Moravia in 1852.

He received his rabbinic ordination and a doctorate in Germany.

 

Along the way

After serving a few years at German pulpits, he left for the United States in 1883, serving in Alabama and then at Temple Emanuel in Denver, Colorado, where he gained status as an American Reform Rabbi.

Isaias W. Hellman, on a trip back East, visited Temple Emanuel for a Shabbat evening service, and was so impressed that he invited Rabbi Schreiber to visit Los Angeles to sermonize and possibly consider moving to Southern California.

Rabbi Schreiber’s wife, Sallie, was suffering from a rheumatic ailment that was aggravated by the high altitude of Denver.

Rabbi Schreiber traveled to Los Angeles and gave two sermon/lectures.

He was offered the pulpit of Congregation B’nai B’rith as the replacement for Rabbi Abraham Edelman, who was soon to retire.

 

Los Angeles

Emanuel and Sallie Schreiber arrived in Los Angeles in 1885.

Sallie reportedly boarded the train in Denver on a wheelchair, but walked off the train in Los Angeles without any help.

The 2nd building of Congregation B’nai B’rith, Los Angeles. [Note the 150-foot tall street lamp in front.]

Shreiber performed first “Reform” service held at Congregation B’nai B’rith.

The Board of Directors — consisting of Harris Newmark (president), Herman M. Hellman, Isaias W. Hellmanand Nathan Jacoby — were all proud.

However, many of the older “Orthodox” members were not.

The mixing of Reform and Orthodox in services remained a problem throughout Rabbi Schreiber’s stay.

Schribner brought needed life to synagogue life: the membership doubled, the Sunday School flourished, and the synagogue did well while good economic times boomed.

The rabbi was very popular with the Christian clergy in Los Angeles. They considered him their expert on Old Testament questions.

Like Rabbi Abraham Edelman before him, Rabbi Schreiber invested in various business opportunities and real estate. He did quite well, which bothered some of his congregants.

Rabbi Scribner gave his notice and “moved on” in 1889.

Again, like Rabbi Edelman, after serving synagogues back East, the cold weather “got to him,” and Rabbi Schribner returned to Los Angeles in the 1920’s.

While in retirement, he served for a at the new Temple Emanuel, Los Angeles’ second Reform synagogue.

 

Community

In 1885, Rabbi Schreiber helped found the Ladies Aid Society within the Temple.

Mrs. Harris Newmark was the first president of the organization, and Mrs. Isaias W. Hellman was the second president.

In 1888, Schreibner helped create The Associated Charities of Los Angeles to assist the special needs of many poor immigrants coming to the city. After the Rabbi “moved on” and the economic boom ended, the organization faded away.

Rabbi Schreiber also founded a YMHA from the older children and young Jewish men. This, too, faded after he left and times were more difficult.

Family

Rabbi Schreibner married Sallie Fist in 1884 in Pueblo, Colorado.

Emanuel Schreiber passed away in 1932.

Sources

  • William M. Kramer and Reva Clar, “Emanuel Schreiber: Los Angeles’ First Reform Rabbi, 1885-1889; Part 1,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 9/4.
  • William M. Kramer and Reva Clar, “Emanuel Schreiber: Los Angeles’ First Reform Rabbi, 1885-1889; Part 2,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 10/1.