founders galaHistory of Temple Beth-El
While only a taste of our history, this page outlines how Temple Beth-El was founded and how it has grown over the years since 1953 into a vibrant community of over 400 families. You can follow links on this page to learn more about our current congregation.

In the summer of 1953 a group of young Jews in the Somerset County area organized a community-wide meeting. The purpose was to consider how to establish a synagogue alive to the spirit of Judaism, yet consistent with modernity. Their efforts led to the founding of Temple Beth-El on August 27, 1953. Several of those 15 families are active congregants to this day.

Just a few years later, our founding members purchased property in Somerville for the expanding congregation. This space was dedicated on September 9, 1960. The existing house on Altamont Place became classrooms and offices, while the carriage house became the sanctuary/social hall and the kitchen. These facilities made possible new ways to reach Temple Beth-El’s vision and commitments to the Jewish community.

In June 1961 the congregation welcomed its first full-time rabbi. The Confirmation Class became the capstone of the Religious School. The Sisterhood established a preschool and the Temple Beth-El Youth Group became integral to the congregation’s programming.

Rabbi Tarfon taught in Pirke Avot: “You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to abstain from it.” The many people who since our founding years have embodied that teaching have written the history of this congregation. We now share this history, and it is up to us to write the next chapters. We have so much to continue to build upon.

Pirke Avot 1:2
  • Torah means continuous Jewish learning on a wide variety of subjects taught from Pre-K through Post-Confirmation and beyond.
  • Avodah (Worship) means engaging in worship experiences that connect us to God.
  • G’milut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness) means fulfilling mitzvot and behaving in ways that connect us to all of God’s creation.