Temple Beth Shalom: Santa Fe’s First Synagogue

Temple Beth Shalom painting by Tommy Macaione.

In the 1930s, a small group of business owners in Santa Fe started a branch of B’nai B’rith, which means “sons of the covenant” in Hebrew. The oldest Jewish service organization in the world began in 1843 on New York’s Lower East Side. During the early days in Santa Fe the group met in met in stores, libraries, and churches. As the decade wore on and new people arrived in town to work on the Manhattan Project, the Jewish community grew substantially. It was then that the members of B’nai B’rith formed a committee to organize a congregation. On December 5, 1946, the Santa Fe Jewish Temple came into existence. In attendance were Julius Cans, Dan Taichert, Marcel Pick, Marcia Hertsmark, Louis Rubinstein, Albert Kahn, and Emil Pick. By 1949 there were some 30 families, and the organization became the Santa Fe Jewish Temple and Community Center.

Temple & Cemetery Established in Santa Fe

The Jewish Temple opened in 1956. Memorial Gardens Cemetery added a Jewish section later that year. The architect John Gaw Meem designed the temple on Barcelona Street. The name of the organization changed in 1970. That year it became Temple Beth Shalom, which means “house of peace” in Hebrew. Today, the congregation consists of approximately 400 families. In 1987 a new building became the primarily place of worship. Today, the original building structure is used as a preschool and library. The Las Vegas Torah, the oldest in New Mexico, is one of the major features of the library.

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