History Places St Landry History

The Opelousas Jewish Temple

A little more Opelousas history:

As more Jewish immigrants came into the Opelousas area, the Jewish community established their own cemetery by 1865. In 1877, holding services at the Masonic Lodge, the community formed a congregation, with Joseph Bloch as president and Emanuel Phillips as secretary. A small temple was later built for the congregation that lasted until the 1920s. In 1929, Temple Emanuel was founded with 65 members, absorbing the earlier congregation.

Sunday afternoon June 9, 1929 was a special day for Jewish citizens of Opelousas and the entire area. On that day Rabbi Herman Strauss of Alexandria officially dedicated Temple Emanuel in Opelousas. The corner stone was also laid on that day at a special ceremony. The brick synagogue was erected on land donated by the Haas family on South Main St.

That building, although no longer used for services, is now privately owned and will be restored for commercial use. Look for a story about the renovation of the building and the recent work done on the Jewish cemetery in this newspaper, coming soon.

Top photograph shows the Temple Emanuel in c. 1930. (From Carola Lillie Hartley collection.)

Bottom photograph shows the Temple in c. 1990. (Photograph by Sherri Landry)