Our History

More than one hundred years ago they met, barely 36 in number, to put their names to this declaration:


“We, the undersigned Israelites of this city, recognizing the necessity of preserving Judaism in all its pristine glory, and making it clear and comprehensible to the raising generation, are in favour of organizing a progressive congregation and to discuss the best means to reach this desirable object, at a meeting called for this purpose.”

They were the founders; and the Congregation to which they gave the name of Temple Emanu-El held its first service during High Holy Days of 1882.

On Aug. 24, 1882- Congregation Temple Emanu-El  is founded. Rabbi Samuel Marks was our first rabbi from 1882 to 1889

1892 the congregation moved to its own Temple on Stanley Street.

1911 a new building was built, on the same location that we occupy today, to house the growing congregation. Its Byzantine style became a familiar landmark in Westmount.

1927 Rabbi Harry Joshua Stern comes to Temple, Temple Youth group founded and  Junior congregation services and Sabbath morning services instituted.

1957, a terrible fire destroyed the building. Although the Torah scrolls, some ceremonial objects and the congregational library were saved, the Sanctuary was completely gutted.

1960 the new building was completed as we know it today.

1980 Beth Sholom, a sister congregation formed in 1953, merged with Emanu-El becoming Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom.

1989 Rabbi Leigh Lerner begins his tenure as Senior Rabbi

1992 Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom receives donation from former Rodeph Shalom Congregation and names chapel in honour thereof.

1996- by-laws amended to include same-sex couples under Family Membership and Le Dialogue Judeo-Chrétienne is formed

2012 Rabbi Lisa Grushcow becomes Temple’s first female Senior Rabbi, and Rabbi Lerner becomes Rabbi Emeritus

2015- first Pride Shabbat, co-sponsored with Ga’ava