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Our History

Temple Emanu-El was founded in 1952 to meet the growing needs of the Jewish community in Oak Park, Huntington Woods and other (then) northern suburbs of Detroit. Called the Suburban Temple of Greater Detroit, it held its first service for its 100 families on January 18, 1952 at Burton School in Huntington Woods. The first High Holiday services were held later that year at the First Methodist Church of Royal Oak, with parking provided by St. Mary’s Church of Royal Oak– the first inter-faith project in the area. Within its first year, the congregation grew to almost 300 families under the leadership of Rabbi Frank Rosenthal, z’l . Our membership continues to include founding members, as well as their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The cornerstone for our building was laid on October 2, 1955, with its final dedication in 1957 under the direction of its new rabbi, Milton Rosenbaum, z’l, who was installed the year before, and who served Temple Emanu-El as Rabbi, and then Rabbi Emeritus, for more than 40 years. In 1981 Rabbi Lane Steinger, Associate Rabbi for five years succeeded Rabbi Rosenbaum. Joseph Klein became our Rabbi in 1997 and then Rabbi Emeritus in 2013, Arturo Kalfus served as our Rabbi from 2013-2018.

Our first Cantor, Norman Rose, z’l, joined us in 1972 and served us more than 40 years. Darcie Sharlein became our second Cantor, serving from 2008 to 2012.

Rabbi Matthew J. Zerwekh joined us in 2018 and Kelly Onickel serves as our Cantorial Soloist.


We are an open, welcoming, inclusive congregation that strives to be a presence in your Jewish journey, wherever you are. We believe in the importance of three of the pillars of Judaism, Torah (study), Avodah (worship), and G’milut Chasadim (acts of lovingkindness).

We understand that the root of our tradition is Torah, and that it can be a guiding presence in our daily lives as we work to make it relevant and meaningful in all areas of life.

Our prayer is simultaneously intensely private and beautifully communal – we understand prayer to be a path toward connection to the divine and an acknowledgement of a force greater than ourselves. Through prayer we search the depths of our souls, we give thanks for that which is good in our lives, and remind ourselves of work that has yet to be done.

We are committed to Tikkun Olam – repairing our world. We understand that sparks of divinity can be found in all corners of our world and we strive to act to act locally and globally to fix that which is broken, and to speak for those who lack a voice. We strive to understand and interact with our world in a meaningful way and to bring our values and tradition to the work we do.

We are a family of families – we work to help all feel included and valued in our community.  We want to celebrate with you during your happiest moments, and we want to help lift you up during the hardest.

Temple Emanu-El can be a spiritual home for all – one where your children from the earliest age can be surrounded by a loving community of teachers devoted to educating and instilling within them a Jewish identity. Through our Early Childhood Community (infant to pre-K), and Yachad religious school (Kindergarten – High School), we offer opportunities to educate your child in a welcoming setting where they will be taught by a strong corps of teachers and specialists. Whether you are looking for a place for prayer, learning, cultural engagement, volunteer opportunities, or to make new friends, we are confident that we can provide relevant ways to engage with a community large enough to offer a broad array of engagement opportunities while remaining intimate enough to allow you to get involved and to make your own mark.

Please join us as we strive to provide a vibrant and supportive community built on the foundational principles of Torah, Avodah, and G’milut Chasadim, while engaging with the world around us in a meaningful and relevant way.

Temple Emanu-El – for wherever you find yourself on your Jewish journey.

Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784