Temple Emanu-El is a Reform Synagogue whose members reside throughout Union County and beyond. Affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, Temple Emanu-El was founded in 1950 and currently serves more than 1,100 member families.
The story of Temple Emanu-El is best told in its context of colonial Westfield, New Jersey. A scenic, classic American town founded in 1794, Westfield was home to only a handful of Jews beginning around the First World War. By 1950, a group of 43 families of disparate religious backgrounds came together, resolved to create a Jewish identity. At a time when Jews could not purchase land in much of Westfield, and residents circulated petitions against the building of a synagogue, these founders persevered. They created a community that flourished in size and influence, while broadening the town’s understanding and vision of itself.
The founding families came from Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform backgrounds, with varying attachments to each. Assisted by our first Rabbi, they devised an interpretation of Reform Judaism uniquely their own: an organic Jewish community with integrated religious, cultural, social and philanthropic efforts. Traditions of Judaism were retained, including required kippot on the bimah, extensive Hebrew worship, and customary observances. For more than 60 years, Jews of all backgrounds and beliefs have felt welcome in Temple Emanu-El.