Founded in 1850, Temple Emanu-El is the oldest Jewish congregation west of the Mississippi river. The congregation first gathered for services in a former storage house on Jackson Street until 1865, then in a synagogue built on Sutter Street, and finally in the current building in Presidio Heights. This opulent, neo-byzantine building was inspired by the architecture of Hagia Sofia cathedral and was erected in 1924-1926.
An organ was first used by the San Francisco synagogue in 1857. The Sutter Street Temple built in 1866 also had an organ installed above the altar. The current Skinner organ was manufactured in 1924 at the same time as the new synagogue. This was during the cantorial service of Reuben R. Rinder, who was a key figure for the musical life of the congregation Emanu-El. For example, he started an annual music festival held in the temple where great compositions inspired by Jewish history were performed, such as Handel's Judas Maccabeus or Mendelssohn's Elijah.
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Larghetto in F-sharp minor (Popup Player)
"Still, still, still" from Ten Chorale Improvisations op.22 (Popup Player)