Temple Kol Ami was chartered by the State of Florida in 1975, engaged as its first Rabbi, Dr. Sheldon J. Harr, in June of 1976, and joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now, the Union For Reform Judaism) in 1977.
We are from humble origins. Prior to 1975, a handful of Jewish families met in various buildings and homes in the City of Plantation. For three years, our Temple home was a double-wide trailer on Nob Hill Road. Reflecting, among other elements, the spurt of growth of the Jewish Community of South Florida, our Temple became engaged in construction over several decades, ultimately establishing a magnificent “Center of our Jewish Community” campus at 8200 Peters Road, Plantation.
- In 1978, we built our first multi-purpose building on Peters Road on seven and a half acres of centrally located land in the heart of Broward County.
- In 1981, our religious school wing was added.
- In 1988, we significantly expanded our facilities by building a magnificent new sanctuary with permanent seating for 800 people with an adjoining smaller and less-formal chapel to seat up to 1,400 for the High Holy Days and other occasions. We refurbished the social hall, built a Holocaust Memorial Garden, and added a Judaica shop and administrative offices.
- In 1995, we constructed the 16,000-square-foot Elizabeth Shoshanna Harr Education Center, adding another 15 classrooms and educational space to our campus for Early Childhood, Day School and Religious School needs.
- In 1999, the Temple purchased an additional 5.35 acres contiguous and east of our property. This enabled Temple Kol Ami to expand its Day School and Religious School facilities, build another eight state-of-the-art classrooms, along with a youth lounge, children’s library, adult library, and other specialized educational space. On the new land we are able to provide recreational facilities for our schools and youth group programs with the construction of a new playground, regulation full-court basketball court, swimming pool, and cabana building, with land available for a soccer and softball field, plus additional parking.
- In 2008, we completed our 23,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Early Childhood learning center, which is attached to the main building and Chapel. Agan Shalom, a meditative garden and outdoor study and prayer area, was added to our beautiful campus-like setting.
A vitally important aspect of our Temple’s history occurred in 2004, with the merger of Temple Emanu-El of Fort Lauderdale with Temple Kol Ami. Temple Emanu-El was Broward County’s historic Reform Congregation, founded in the 1930s. Unifying our strengths and melding our congregations, the Temples joined together to become Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El, thereby strengthening the Jewish Community in many different ways.
While we are proud of our growth, heritage and development, Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El has never lost focus of its primary purpose: serving its members and its community, creatively perpetuating Jewish life within the tradition of Reform Judaism, and supporting those programs and projects within our congregation and within our wider community which assist in meeting those goals.