Warm Place. Cool Shul.
It all began in 1946. The Jewish population on Philadelphia’s Main Line was growing, but the number of synagogues were not. Twenty dedicated men and women decided to do something about that. Committed to establishing a new Jewish house of worship, they turned a modest six-room house in Haverford into the first Temple Adath Israel. Its religious school boasted an initial enrollment of six students!
By 1949, with membership exceeding 400 families, there were sufficient resources to purchase an estate on Montgomery Avenue and Wynnewood Road. However, it soon became apparent that even this new facility was inadequate for the needs of the growing congregation. President George Friedland and other synagogue leaders determined that the time had come to create a permanent home for Adath Israel. In 1953, seven acres were purchased on Old Lancaster Road and Highland Avenue in Merion Station and ground was broken for the new building. Abba Eban, the Israeli Ambassador at the time, was an honored guest at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Within just a year, a new 900-seat Sanctuary and 23-classroom educational building had been completed and for the first time we were able to hold High Holiday services in a home of our own. The final stage of the creation of our new home began in 1958, with the design and building of our sanctuary. The synagogue was completed and officially dedicated in 1959.
We Continue to Grow
Responding to new priorities and congregational growth, in 2003, Adath Israel added the Sklaroff Center and additional classroom space on the third floor. In 2006, we continued to expand as we welcomed members from Congregation Beth T’fillah. Along with enriching our congregation through their active involvement and participation in weekly services, the Beth T’fillah congregants also gave to Adath Israel the gift of 28 magnificent stained glass panels, which now enhance our sanctuary.
A New Rabbi, A New Beginning
In July 2010, we welcomed Rabbi Eric Yanoff, his wife, Dava, and their son Aiden to our Adath Israel family. Rabbi Yanoff brought a new level of enthusiasm, spirit and warmth to our services and programs and since he came to Adath Israel we have continued to see our family - and theirs! – grow! While at Adath Israel we have also welcomed two more sons, Ezra and Avi, to the Yanoff clan. After Rabbi Yanoff's arrival, we soon welcomed over 100 new families into our congregation through the merge of Suburban Jewish Community Center Bnai Aaron. We are now home to nearly 800 families. While it was a bittersweet time for those families to close their shul and come to ours, it has also been a joyful time as they brought their history and traditions to enrich our own. Together, we started planning an exciting future. In 2014, we were able to unveil our new, beautiful, state-of-the-art Mandell Sanctuary.
We Are Thankful
To our growing delight, in July 2015, we welcomed a wonderful addition to our clergy: Rabbi Ariella Rosen. Rabbi Rosen enhances services, our education program and our abililty to reach out to families in times of joy and sorrow. Rabbi Rosen has become a true leader. From the youngest children in our ECLC, to our MAKOM children and day school families and through our incredible Adult Ed classes, she has created an fantastic, multi-generational synagogue family. Rabbi Rosen's latest and greatest achievement was co-creating the Lower Merion Area Hebrew High School (LMAHH) with three other local Conservative synagogues (Congregation Beth Am Israel, Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, and Har Zion Temple). LMAHH's doors opened in September 2017.
The future is NOW at Adath Israel.