Communally speaking, an important part of Scarsdale Synagogue Temple Tremont and Emanu-El's (SSTTE's) past is the rich heritage of the historic Temple Emanu-El of Yonkers. My thanks go to former Temple Emanu-El staff member and Past President Marilyn Shebshaievitz, who graciously took me on a tour of Yonkers on September 24, 2013.
We began by making the less than 10 mile drive from SSTTE to this property, which sits at 142 Buena Vista Avenue:
By 1912, Temple Emanu-El had long since outgrown the Buena Vista Avenue facility. Arrangements had already been made several years earlier to purchase the property at 61 Hamilton Avenue. At the cornerstone-laying for the new building in March of 1912, a number of dignitaries were present including the significant Jewish philanthropist and lay leader Jacob Schiff.
Alas: there was no time to dwell on the distant past in our tour. As we made our way through Yonkers, it was clear that the high point of our pilgrimage would be the building on Rumsey Road, which the congregation moved into in 1959.
Before I go further, I should pause to acknowledge the significance of Rabbi Abraham Klausner to the Emanu-El extended family. Rabbi Klausner served the congregation with distinction from 1953 until his retirement in 1989, when he became Rabbi Emeritus.
And in that sense, the Rumsey Road building, which the congregation occupied from 1960-2008, was a great success. There is a sense of grandiosity, to be sure, that is embedded in the sanctuary, the exterior building supports, and the stained glass windows. But there is also much intimacy about the place. For me, this was best encapsulated in the stunning courtyard that is at the heart of the structure. Substantial and grand...and at the same time warm and inviting. That's what Temple Emanu-El strove to be. And not uncoincidentally, that is, I think, what SSTTE sees itself as as well.
Although Temple Emanu-El left Rumsey Road in 2008, the story of the congregation continues! Its proud name, and the legacy of its past survives in the congregation that I am privileged to serve today: