October 18, 1869: In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Temple Emanu-El was formed under the leadership of David Adler and Henry Friend.
Gathering first in homes for Shabbat worship, the community grew to include three tiny congregations until 1856 when they joined together to form B’ne Jeshurun. A year later they moved into the first synagogue building on Fourth Street between State and Prairie (now Highland Avenue).
Thirteen years later, 35 families left the congregation to establish a new Congregation Emanu-El, and B’ne Jeshurun remained at its building on 10th and Cedar Street (now Kilbourn Avenue), the site currently occupied by the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Both groups flourished separately for fifty eight years until Emanu-El, in need of larger facilities, broke ground in 1922 for a new build at 2419 East Kenwood Boulevard.
When plans for the new courthouse called for the demolition of B’ne Jeshurun’s synagogue, the wheels were set in motion for the 1927 merger of Milwaukee’s two Reform congregations. Today a bronze plaque on the south face of the courthouse commemorates the former B’ne Jeshurun building. Since 1927 the combined congregations have existed as Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun.
Today, I am featuring a piece of ephemera tangentially related to philately – a postcard with the German-English Academy and the original Temple Emanu-El on Cedar Street.