Emanuel Synagogue

The roots of our synagogue go back to 1890 when Oklahoma Territory was opened to settlers. The first minyan was held when 10 Jewish settlers found each other.

Congregation Emanuel was chartered on June 17, 1904, in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In the settlement that became Oklahoma City, a congregation of 22 members held regular services in a rented room at 117½ West Grand Street.

The first Talmud Torah was established in 1924, though Hebrew education was provided as early as 1910. The Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society was created in 1911 and raised the money to obtain the land for the first building.

(early photo of original synagogue)

Our first Synagogue building
  In 1917, our first Synagogue building was dedicated on the corner of Reno and Dewey Streets, the center of the city's Jewish community at that time. Spiritual leadership continued to be provided by lay members until 1921, when the first professional Rabbi joined the congregation.

In 1937 the Cemetery Association was formed, and the Emanuel Hebrew Cemetery was established in 1938. In 1940 the Ladies Benevolent Society changed its name to the Ladies Auxiliary.

Over its first half century, the Synagogue had been small and orthodox, but the congregation was growing and gradually becoming more liberal. In 1946, the Synagogue embraced the Conservative movement and joined the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Our present building at 900 NW 47th Street was dedicated in 1949 (see Synagogue Tour for photos). In the 1950s our first Bat Mitzvah ceremonies were held and the Emanuel Men's Club was formed. The Ladies Auxiliary changed its name to the Emanuel Sisterhood.

In 1960 women were given the right to vote at annual meetings and sit on the Board of Directors. In 1962 the new sanctuary was added to the building.

In 1970 the Israel Pilgrimage Program was established, a scholarship to send students to Israel during the summer after their confirmation. In 1978 the first annual Israeli Festival was held at the Synagogue, a popular Oklahoma City event for 20 years.

The cornerstone of our Mikvah was laid in 1987; it's now used by the entire Jewish community. In 1989 the Inter-congregational Sunday School was started in cooperation with Temple B'nai Israel, Oklahoma City's Reform synagogue, to educate young members of both congregations.

(front of 100th Anniversary Album)  Beginning with Rosh Hashanah in 1991, women were counted for minyan at all services. In 1997 the Bloom Fund was endowed to provide for the education of the congregation's children.

In 2004 the Synagogue celebrated its 100-year anniversary. That July a year-long series of events culminated with a weekend full of special activities including a gala celebration party. A lavish commemorative book was issued, Emanuel Synagogue Oklahoma City Jewish Family Album.

Emanuel Synagogue has now entered its second century. In 2005 we launched this website, and we continue to look to the future...


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