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

Rev.Dr. Emanuel (Ephraim) Schreibner

Emanuel Schreibner, the 2nd Rabbi of Los Angeles and 1st Reform Rabbi

Values Code: I-H-E-L-P

Emanuel Schreibner was born in Leipnik, Moravia in 1852

He received his Rabbinic Ordination and a Doctorate in Germany.

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, CO. 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 Schreibner to visit Los Angeles to speak and possibly consider moving to Southern California.

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

Scheibner traveled to Los Angeles giving two sermon/lectures and was offered the pulpit of Congregation B’nai B’rith as Rabbi Abraham Edelman, was soon to retire.


The Los Angeles Years

Rabbi Schreibner and his wife arrived in Los Angeles, in 1885.

Sallie had boarded the train in Denver on a wheelchair.

She walked off the train in Los Angeles without any help.


The 2nd Congregation B’nai B’rith of Los Angeles. Note 150 foot tall street lamp in front.

At the first “Reform” service held at Congregation B’nai B’rith the Board, consisting of Harris Newmark, President; with other board members consisting of Herman M. Hellman, Isaias W. Hellman and 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 Schreibner’s stay.


Rabbi Schribner brought needed life to synagogue life.

Membership doubled.

The Sunday School flourished.

The synagogue did well while good economic times boomed.


Rabbi Schreibner was very popular with the Christian clergy in Los Angeles.

They considered him their expert on Old Testament questions.


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

Mrs. Harris Newmark was the first President, and Mrs. Isaias W. Hellman was the second President.

In 1888, Rabbi Schreibner help create The Associated Charities of Los Angeles to help 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 Schreibner also founded a YMHA from the older children and young Jewish men.

This, too, faded after he left and times were more difficult.



Like Rabbi Abraham Edelman before him, Rabbi Schreibner 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 in 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 while at the new Temple Emanuel, Los Angeles’ second Reform synagogue.



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


Emanuel Schreiber passed away, in 1932


More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Schreiber, Emanuel; Emanuel Schreiber: Los Angeles’ First Reform Rabbi; 1885-1889; Part 2; Los Angeles; Clar, Reva & Kramer, William M.; 10/1
  • Schreiber, Rabbi Emanuel; Emanuel Schreiber: Los Angeles’ First Reform Rabbi; 1885-1889; Part 1; Los Angeles; Stern, Norton B. & Kramer, William M.; 9/4


More Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers

For more Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers click here for the Table of Contents.

Some, but not all of the Los Angeles Pioneers, can be reached by clicking on their name on the list near the upper right of this page.