Temple Emanu-El began with a gathering of 33 Jewish people who came from Germany to New York City. The 33 Jewish people followed the footsteps of the 10,000 Jewish people who were already living in the United States during the American Revolution. Between 1835 and 1855, 250,000 crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in metropolitan areas, such as New York City, Baltimore, and San Francisco.
Originally, Temple Emanu-El had started in the Lower East Side. However, with its growing number of supporters and worshippers, the temple began to move uptown. Eventually, the location the temple was situated in became commercialized and the temple moved once again. This time, the temple moved to 65th Street.
Temple Emanu-El formed partnerships with nearby temples. Additionally, the temple began to purchase property adjacent to the new location. Today, this site houses the temple’s Religious School and Nursery School. It also houses the Skirball Center for Jewish Life and Learning, along with the Leon Lowenstein Sanctuary.