In 1958 Burbank was a growing city. Families were moving into the San Fernando Valley and buying homes. Ten reform-minded Jewish families decided they needed a place to worship and established Temple Beth Emet.
The temple had its first service in the chapel of the United First Methodist Church on March 7, 1958. Less than a month later, the congregation held its first annual community Passover Seder. A few months later, Hank Blum was elected the first president of Temple Beth Emet.
In January of 1960, the temple received its own first Torah. The small congregation decided it needed a “home of its own” and with the assistance of a temple member who was a realtor, Temple Beth Emet purchased a house near Magnolia and Third Streets in Burbank to serve as its synagogue.
In the early days, the congregation was led by a series of rabbis, some of them student rabbis. In 1965, Rabbi William M. Kramer became the spiritual leader and some might say, he put Temple Beth Emet on the map. He was not only a rabbi, but a professor, a lawyer, and a scholar. He wrote weekly articles for the Jewish Heritage newspaper and was a preeminent authority on the Jewish history of the west.
In 1977 the Burbank Redevelopment Agency sought to acquire the land on which the temple stood. Arrangements were made for the Temple to acquire it’s present site. The Temple sanctuary was literally picked up from one location and transported to its new site, to be used as a social hall, and a new facility constructed.
In July 1986, Rabbi Mark H. Sobel joined Temple Beth Emet as Educational Director and Rabbinic Intern. Later his duties were expanded to include Assistant Rabbi. Upon Rabbi Kramer’s retirement in June 1996, Rabbi Sobel became the Rabbi of Temple Beth Emet.
Under Rabbi Sobel, Temple Beth Emet expanded its involvement in the community, including supporting the Burbank Human Relations Council, Valley Storefront and Burbank Temporary Aid, interfaith activities, and social action programs such as Mitzvah Day.
Temple Beth Emet particularly values its friendship with St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, where High Holiday services are held.
As Temple Beth Emet looks forward, the congregation recognizes the need to address the issues facing the Jewish community of the 21st Century, which include changing demographics, intermarriage, assimilation and loss of Jewish identity, and changes in the structure of the family. The “Temple With a Heart” has always innately embraced those whose lives are touched by these issues and takes great pride in the diversity of the congregation.