Log in Subscribe

Temple Beth El Celebrates 50th Anniversary


Why is the 50th year of Temple Beth El’s existence an important milestone? Jubilee (Yovel, in Hebrew), as stated in the bible, took place every fifty years. It was intended as a year of rest, return, and liberty. On Feb. 10th, Temple Beth El Bradenton/Lakewood Ranch celebrated 50 years since its inception by having an unbelievable Gala. Mazel Tov to Temple Beth El. Here is how it all started.

In March 1974, a small group of Jewish families met at the home of Dr. Craig and Linda Hoffman to introduce the idea of a Jewish congregation in Manatee County. Rabbi Albert Shulman of South Bend, Indiana, offered valuable advice on how a Temple might be formed and promised to conduct the next series of High Holy Day services. With the help of Carl and Barbara Shapiro and others, the small community found a home - in the club room of the Carmel Apartments - where they remained for the next two years.

Friday night services began, led by their first “lay rabbi,” Dr. Murray Gerber. Craig Hoffman’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ruben Hoffman, generously donated the first Torah. Two children became B’nai Mitzvah, the Sisterhood was formed, and the first religious school was established, thanks to Dr. Murray and Lois Gerber. Jewish children now had a home where they could learn to love their heritage and traditions.

Founding member, Linda Hoffman with her brother, Frank Samson and her two sons, Larry Hoffman left and Ryan, far right.
Founding member, Linda Hoffman with her brother, Frank Samson and her two sons, Larry Hoffman left and Ryan, far right.

Temple membership grew, and the congregation needed a permanent home. A site was chosen in the spring of 1977, and the ground was broken in August 1977. On April 9, 1978, a very proud and happy congregation dedicated the temple called “Beth El,” House of G-d. Founding member and first congregation president, Dr. Craig Hoffman wrote, “Almost the entire membership arrived in Bradenton after 1974, and the temples and synagogues they came from were different from ours". Dr. Hoffman said quite prophetically that “if we can blend the needs and desires of both the old and the newer members, in Bradenton, we will survive and thrive for generations.”

And now, in 2024, Temple Beth El celebrates 50 years! Today, the synagogue offers inspiring and engaging Friday night services and dynamic Torah prayer and discussion every Saturday morning with our full-time Rabbi, Reb Tuviah Schreiber. Members and friends also participate in our moving Havdalah events, Chavurah, and Mah Jongg. We proudly offer seating for all High Holy Day services at no charge to anyone. We also conduct a Passover Seder, which will be held this year on Monday, Apr. 22, at Tara Country Club, and participate in our community’s annual Bradenton Chanukah Menorah lighting each year.

Throughout our first 50 years, “TBE” strived to be a joyous, supportive home and place of worship. The congregation connects the community and engages and enriches Jewish spiritual, cultural, ethical, educational, and social life. As our area grows and changes, Temple Beth El will be there and continue to be a religious light to the Manatee/Lakewood Ranch Jewish community. Join us any Friday at 7 pm, any Saturday morning at 10 am, or for any holiday event. For more information, go to www.bethel-fl.org. Join the email list while you are there, or call 941-755-4900.

You shall count for yourselves seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years . . . a total of forty-nine years . . . And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all its inhabitants . . . (Leviticus 25:3–10)


No comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.