The Greensboro Jewish community had its first permanent settlers in the middle 1890’s. At this time, the earliest Greensboro members of the Cone and Schiffman families arrived and were soon joined by relatives and in-laws. The decade of the 1890’s was a period of rapid growth for Greensboro. The population grew from 3,317 in 1890 to 10,035 in 1900. Growth continued for both the general and Jewish populations. It was in an atmosphere of optimism and rebirth that the foundation of modern Greensboro, with its Jewish community, was built.
The religious group that was to become Temple Emanuel was organized in 1907. The first documented formal worship services were for the High Holy Days. The early services were held in the rented second floor of a grocery store on South Elm Street.
Formal records began with minutes of the Trustees on February 8, 1908. The first meeting in 1908 was held to discuss arrangements for the purchase of the first Temple, a former Friends Church in the first block of East Lee Street. On April 9, 1909, the organization became more formal with the official name being Reform Hebrew Congregation, Inc., but was called the Greensboro Hebrew Congregation because of participation by both Reform and Orthodox Jews. The building was called Temple Emanuel. The Congregation was officially named Temple Emanuel in 1949 in recognition of the recently formed Conservative congregation at Beth David Synagogue.
In October 1919, the decision was made to plan for a new Temple and the location on North Greene Street “overlooking Fisher Park” was selected. In 1920, the famous architect, Hobart Upjohn, was engaged and in the fall of 1922, construction began. The cornerstone was laid in 1923, and the building was in use in 1924. Formal dedication was in June 1925. The Temple admitted women into full membership in 1923, which represented an early break with tradition.
The Congregation continued to grow, and in the 1940s it needed to expand the Religious School. In 1949, architect and Temple member, Edward Loewenstein, drew the plans and later that year the Sunday School wing was in use.
The Congregation was again outgrowing its facilities by the late '50s. This led to the construction of the Rypins Building (named for Rabbi Frederick Rypins and his wife, Ruth Rypins). This educational and meeting center was formally dedicated in 1979.
In 1995, Fred Guttman became the Rabbi of Temple Emanuel and ushered in a new era. The Congregation was once again outgrowing its facilities, so construction was begun on a second campus on Jefferson Road in Northwest Greensboro. This facility was completed in time for the High Holy Day Services in 2002.
The Jefferson Road Campus is the heart of Temple Emanuel’s religious and educational facilities. Though the Rypins Building was sold in late 2003, services and special functions are still periodically held at the Greene Street location.
Today, Temple Emanuel is a congregation of approximately 600 families, and a proud member of the Union for Reform Judaism. Our 100-year anniversary was in 2007. We celebrated all year and the culmination was the publication of our Centennial Book.