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Our History

In November of 1953, a group of 35 Jewish families in Cedar Grove formed a “social club” in order to promote the “social, cultural, civic and
religious interests” of the Jewish residents of the community. That May in 1954, saw the official birth of the “Jewish Community of Cedar Grove.” The first Jewish religious services were held on June 12, 1954 in borrowed space in the Community Church. After careful research and intensive debate, the group decided to identify itself as a Reform congregation. In September of 1954, teachers were hired and the first Sunday School classes began. Later that fall, the group formally voted to affiliate with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Student rabbi, Joel Goor conducted Friday evening services in the South End Firehouse from January until May, 1959, when Rabbi Max Hausen succeeded him as spiritual leader. In May, 1956, a plot of land fronting on Pompton Avenue was purchased, and after enormous effort, a building, consisting of an all-purpose room (our current social hall), kitchen, office and classrooms was erected; it was dedicated in 1957. In 1960, the congregation chose Temple Sholom of Cedar Grove as the name for its new synagogue. In 1968, the name of the congregation was again changed, this time to “Temple Sholom of West Essex” reflecting the multi-community composition of the synagogue’s membership. Rabbi Norman R. Patz was named rabbi of Temple Sholom of West Essex in 1969. In May 1972, the permanent sanctuary and expanded social hall, office and library facilities were dedicated. In 1973, a 5-day per week nursery school was opened under the congregation’s sponsorship. 1988 saw the completion of renovations of the sanctuary, social hall and kitchen. In 2004 Temple Sholom of West Essex commemorated it 50th anniversary. In 2008 Renovation of the lobby and religious school wings were completed
In 2006, Rabbi Laurence Groffman was installed as a new rabbi while Rabbi Norman Patz became Rabbi Emeritus. Today, the membership and religious school continue to grow.
With Approximately 400 members (individuals and families) living in many West Essex communities, Temple Sholom of West Essex is affiliated with the Union of Reform Judaism, the oldest federated union of synagogues in North America.
Early Temple Leaders                                                                                  Rabbi Patz                           
Until 1995, we only hired cantors for the High Holy Days.  To support our growing community and expand our musical program, we hired Cantor Naomi Hirsch to be our first permanent cantor.  Cantor Mark Perman followed for five years. For fourteen years, Cantor Betsey Peters-Epstein served with distinction, supervising our Choral Shabbats, preparing our B’nai Mitzvah, performing life cycle events, and introduced our TSWE Musicians.  Upon her retirement in 2016, Cantor Kenneth Feibush joined our clergy.
Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784