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A Brief History of Our Congregation:

Temple Emanu-El was founded in 1907.  There are various versions as to its founding.  One is that it started as a Sisterhood interested in Judaism.  The other version is that it began with a group of mostly young, immigrant businessmen on Port Richmond Avenue, then the main street of Staten Island.  The story goes that when they began to have children they were concerned for the children's Jewish education and upbringing and started a fund based on the winnings of their Saturday night poker games. 

Temple Emanu-El was typical of many synagogues of this period that were founded in small towns by the Jewish "Main Street" merchants.  Temple Emanu-El was the grand synagogue of Staten Island of its day.  Much larger and more elaborate than any of the others. 

Its congregation was composed of the business and professional elite of the local Jewish community among others.  The Port Richmond Jewish community was a tight-knit community of people who lived in the neighborhood, worked and worshiped together. In 1928 the Educational Building was erected in order to provide more space for educational and social activities.

The building of Temple Emanu-El, which has been nominated for the National Register for Historic Places, is a distinguished, classical revival structure which is said to have been modeled after the great synagogue of Warsaw.  It is one of the best preserved synagogues of its period in the New York area.  The architecture creates an uplifting feeling appreciated by those who come to worship.

The first Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El was Dr. Isaac Millner who was a student of Solomon Schechter, one of the founders of Conservative Judaism in the U.S.  He served from 1912-1948.  Rabbi Benjamin Wykansky served with distinction from 1950-1982.  Rabbi Wykansky, who was a native of England, was greatly admired for his work in the community.  Since 1982 Temple Emanu-El has been served by Rabbi Gerald Sussman, a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

At present the congregation draws its membership from the whole of Staten Island.The members of Temple Emanu-El are a diverse group regarding age, Jewish background and social & economic status.They nevertheless feel comfortable with the warm and accepting atmosphere of the Temple.

Our Classical-Revival Building

Portrait of Dr. Isaac Millner, Rabbi from 1912-1948

Rabbi Benjamin Wykansky, Rabbi from 1950-1982