More than 400 congregants and community members celebrated the installation of Michael Fel as Temple Emanu-El’s fifth rabbi in its 95-year history. The celebration, during the weekend of Feb. 21-23, included a proclamation from U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, story-telling by Temple Emanu-El congregants both past and present, and a special gift from Robert Landau that bound the wisdom of past presidents into a beautiful piece of art.
Rabbi Fel shared the history of the synagogue, which began in 1924 when the executive director of the United Synagogue sent a letter to Philip C. Joslin, then the speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He wrote: “The United Synagogue of America has been interested for some time in the Jewish situation at Providence.” Within months, five parcels, about 36,725 square feet of land that housed Brown University’s botanical garden, were purchased. The cost was $30,000, which was raised from about 50 donors.
Today Emanu-El, in Providence, is a congregation of just over 775 households. Rabbi Fel shared that the temple community has grown by nearly 100 households over the last year and a half.
The weekend celebration was titled L’khu V’nelhak (Let Us Journey Together) because Rabbi Fel has already begun to inspire the congregation to learn together, to pray together, to redeem the world together, and to create a transformational, vibrant Jewish community together.
RACHEL ALEXANDER LEVY is a member of Temple Emanu-El.