Temple Anshe Hesed’s (People of Loving Kindness) history is one of almost 160 years of service to the Jewish Community of Erie, Pennsylvania. The Temple began in 1846 with the establishment of the Anshe Hesed Burial Society. In 1862, Anshe Hesed was incorporated as a congregation. In October of 1875, the Anshe Hesed Reform Congregation became affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now, Union for Reform Judaism).
In 1879 the women of the congregation formed the Rebeckah Society which eventually became the Temple Sisterhood and later was renamed Women of Reform Judaism of Temple Anshe Hesed. Their goal was to help out wherever “womanpower” was needed within the Temple family and to provide leadership opportunities for the women of our congregation. Now that their mission has been fulfilled and the “female perspective” is fully integrated into Temple life, the group has been disbanded.
In 1882 the congregation built its first real synagogue building on West 8th Street. In 1901, with 37 families on its roster, the congregation engaged Rabbi Max C. Currick. With Rabbi Currick as our dynamic spiritual leader for 47 years, the congregation thrived and outgrew the 8th Street building. On June 30, 1930 the new facility, on the corner of Tenth and Liberty Streets, was dedicated. From 1933 to 1945, thirty refugee families fleeing Nazi Germany brought additional strength and dedication to the congregation. In 1947, Rabbi Randall Falk succeeded Rabbi Currick . As the congregation grew to 250 families, additional space was needed, so the Max C. Currick Memorial Building, which included an interfaith chapel, additional classrooms, a new library and renovations to the Schaffner Hall, was dedicated in 1959. In the 1970’s the main sanctuary was renovated and a functional art gallery connector was added. By 1994 another major refurbishment was required. In 2002, the lower level became the Sender Education Center, which provided three additional classrooms, a youth group lounge, and a second assembly area.
The Temple’s demographics have changed over the years. New members, including more than 20 families from the former Soviet Union, have brought new vitality to our congregation. With strong member support, the future of our congregation is bright. Endowed resources assure quality programs. Today, Anshe Hesed, “People of Loving Kindness,” is a very important part of the Erie community. Wherever there is a need and concern for their fellow human beings, our congregants are there.