A BIT OF TEMPLE HISTORY
Having now arrived at the ripe old age of 84, I thought it prudent to try to record a bit of Congregation B’nai Brith’s history that, for the most part, seems to now not be generally known..
Pearl and I, and our 4 children came to Santa Barbara, this beautiful, serene, paradise in 1958.
One of our first acts was to join the Temple.
It was a time of change in Santa Barbara. For many years its economy was based primarily on tourism and retail outlets, but in 1958 Santa Barbara was experiencing an influx of research oriented industries, which, in turn, brought a surge in young professional people and their families into the city. As a result, the Jewish population in Santa Barbara increased.
Although the Temple building, then located at what once had been a private residence on Santa Barbara Street, was essentially ill equipped to easily accommodate the increase in membership, the openness, and friendliness of the Congregation membership greeted the newcomers warmly.
The membership still included Founders of the Congregation, and others, who over the years provided important stability and finances for the Temple.
One example of the problem with the building, when it adapted to increased membership, was the need to place seats for children in Sunday school in one of the rest rooms.
When services were held, the majority of the congregation were seated in a long, narrow, hallway, facing the room at the end of the hall where the bimah was located.
When we arrived in 1958, until about 1960, the Congregation was involved in intense, sometimes heated, debate as to whether our Temple should be Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. In the end Reform won the day, but with the proviso, that special arrangements would be made to meet the needs of the more conservative amongst us.
As somewhat a reflection of the mood of the country, desiring fresh ideas, for example the election of Kennedy as a younger President, his call for the U.S. to travel to the Moon, etc., a number of Congregation members desired that the Congregation pass the leadership baton to the younger generation.
One day, in 1960, two Congregation members visited me at home, and suggested that I run for President of the Congregation. After thinking about this, “out of the blue” idea, for some time, and discussing it with Pearl, I agreed.
Below is a copy of a letter that was sent to the Congregation announcing my candidacy.
It was unusual in that it is the only time that a President was elected by a floor vote.
My term of office was very exciting, trying and interesting. There was still strong opinion differences among the Reform and more Conservative members, there was a history of Congregational in-fighting relating to a succession of Rabbis, and as always, there was a need for finances. Because of these, it was clear, that our Congregation had a ways to go to be united as a family. This required a good deal of my attention and efforts.
Be that as it may, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as President. I owe much of whatever was accomplished to the backing and help from Pearl who, among other duties, (we had four children under the age of eight, including twin boys who were only three years old), became the informal, and appreciated, greeter of Temple newcomers.
I like to think, that in some small way, with the aid of the Board, the members, the Sisterhood, and others, at that time, we helped set the course, and steer the Temple in the direction to what we see today.
While I feel proud of what we were able to do, I am equally proud of those who served after me, who have accomplished so many great things for the Congregation and made it the great success it is today.
Rubin Boxer, CBB President 1960 – 1961