From its earliest days, the Sisterhood of Congregation Emanu El has been a vital part of the livelihood of the temple and its families.
The story starts in 1928, just seven years after the temple’s first permanent location was established at 847 E Street in San Bernardino. Although the congregation had been officially incorporated by the State of California in 1891, it met at a variety of locations, including private homes, the Masonic Temple, the Odd Fellows Hall and Eagles Hall, until its members had raised enough funds for its first permanent home. By the time the building was dedicated in 1921, the congregation served 55 families from San Bernardino and the surrounding area.
Congregation Emanu El's first building, at 847 E Street, was dedicated in 1921.
By 1928, with the temple firmly established at 847 E Street, the head of the local B’nai B’rith Auxiliary, Mrs. Albert Immerman, invited the president of the Federation of California Sisterhoods to speak at a meeting. At this meeting, the 25 women in attendance decided the time had come to start their own Sisterhood and elected Mrs. Immerman as its first chairman and Marcelle Harris, of the prominent San Bernardino family that had established Harris Department Stores, to be its first president.
During the first year, Sisterhood annual dues were $2. The group held its first Seder dinner, which netted $8.41, and also hosted a card party that raised $22. Of this, $3.50 was used to purchase fountain pens for the Sisterhood-directed Sunday School.
Marcelle Harris, whose family founded Harris Department Store in San Bernardino, was the first president of the congregation’s Sisterhood.