History of Temple Solel
The roots of Temple Solel go back to when Belair at Bowie was in its infancy. As the new Levitt Development was growing, about five families recognized the need for a Reform Jewish congregation. In 1963, the first Reform services in Bowie were informally held in the living room of one of our founding family’s home. Temple Solel was born shortly thereafter in 1964. The new congregation received a great deal of help from Rabbi Richard Hirsch who came to Bowie from Washington, D.C. every other month to conduct services. Our second rabbi, Bart Shallot, a student rabbi from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, came to Bowie once a month to conduct services.
When the congregation reached about 50 members, we moved to the Christian Community Presbyterian Church. In 1965, we purchased a rancher on Cherrywood Lane in Bowie to serve as our sanctuary, school and social center with Rabbi Larry Kaplan as our first full-time rabbi.From 1966 through 1967, Rabbi Sol Besser, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Council of the UAHC, conducted bi-weekly services at Temple Solel.
In 1967, Temple Solel hired Rabbi Louis Cashdan. Rabbi Cashdan served Temple Solel for 12 years until his retirement in 1979. During Rabbi Cashdan’s tenure, our Congregation grew to over 100 families and weekly services were instituted.
We quickly outgrew the rancher. In December 1969, we purchased a three-acre site on Mitchellville Road, where Temple Solel now stands. On October 3, 1971, we broke ground for our original building. The construction company provided us with only a “shell” of a building. Much of the remaining work was completed by members volunteering their time and skills. We dedicated the building in February, 1974. After a few years, we acquired additional classroom space by purchasing a “temporary” classroom building.
In 1979, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt became the Temple Solel’s spiritual leader and Rabbi Cashdan, retired became our Rabbi Emeritus. Under Rabbi Weinblatt’s leadership our Congregation grew to over 200 families.
In 1987, Rabbi Weinblatt left our congregation and we welcomed Rabbi Michael Kramer. Our Congregation continued to grow. In 1996, the membership approved a renovation of the building. The renovation included adding a second floor for classrooms and completely remodeling the Temple’s offices, first floor classrooms, lobby and the exterior of the building. After the religious school spent two long years at the Summit School during the renovation, we rededicated the building in October 1998.
In 2000, Rabbi Kramer left our Temple Soles and we welcomed Rabbi Steve Weisman, who continues to serve us today. Under Rabbi Wiseman, Temple Solel has continued to grow and meet the goals of our vision.