Rabbi Marx was only 23-years-old when he came to The Temple. Over the course of his 51-year tenure, which ended just after World War II, he pushed The Temple further into classical Reform Judaism, solidify our place as a leading member of the Union for Reform Judaism (then called the Union of American Hebrew Congregations). His efforts helped to quell earlier controversy between traditionalists and reformers, but it also helped strike a delicate balance between Atlanta’s Jewish and gentile communities.
His successor, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, arrived in 1946. While he rolled back some of the reforms of Rabbi Marx’s tenure, he continued his predecessors outreach to Atlanta’s Christian community. He was, however, much more willing to speak out in support of social justice, even when it angered some in the larger community.
This climate of moderation was shattered on October 12, 1958. A group of white supremacists, angered by The Temple’s ongoing and vocal support of civil rights, placed fifty sticks of dynamite by the north entrance to The Temple.
On December 31, 1973, Rabbi Rothschild died suddenly of a heart attack. His successor, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, continued the tradition of stability at the position of senior rabbi, serving for more than three decades until 2004.
His tenure came at a time of unrivaled growth and prosperity for Atlanta’s Jewish community. From a population of roughly 28,000 in 1980, the Jewish community of metro Atlanta grew to over 120,000 by 2006. Jewish business leaders and Temple members have largely been behind this massive growth, helping to build Atlanta into a corporate center of the South.
The Temple has also grown in those years. In 1985, The Temple Zaban Couples Center began operating on our campus, providing a place to stay for homeless couples. Housed in the Selig Building, the center operates nightly from October through May, a tangible extension of The Temple’s ongoing commitment to social justice.
In 2004, at the end of Rabbi Sugarman’s tenure, we also completed a major renovation and expansion of The Temple campus. The main sanctuary was restored, while the rest of our facilities were renovated and expanded.
Along with the completion of our campus expansion, we also launched the Weinberg Early Learning Center, Atlanta’s premiere Jewish center-based school. The WELC has helped us carry forward our mission of learning from the earliest ages to the eldest.
Under the leadership of our current senior rabbi, Peter S. Berg, The Temple is excited to continue both its incredible growth as well as its long history of social justice and Jewish leadership.
1589 Peachtree Street NE | Atlanta, GA 30309 | t 404-873-1731 | A Reform Synagogue | Affiliated with The Union for Reform Judaism