Rabbi L. E. Dailey, z''l
Congregation Temple Beth'El
The life of our late founder Rabbi Louise Elizabeth Dailey, z''l, began in Annapolis, MD. She came from a religious family, her father was an orthodox Baptist minister, and was the founder of the Second Baptist Church. He was, however, unorthodox in that he would gather the men of the community, and have Bible study on "Saturdays." Reverend Spencer also had a strange habit of wearing his hat at all times. Rabbi Dailey could not remember seeing him without it. The family salted their meats before cooking it, and they covered the mirrors when there was a death in the family, sitting quietly in darkened rooms for seven days. The Spencer family were strict about "Sabbath" worship, which for them was Sunday. The family was not allowed to do any work, play in the streets, go to the theater, or have any other pleasures on that day, in honor of the directive in the Commandments. Rabbi Dailey later referred to it as "misdirected devotion." Reverend Spencer did believe in the power of prayer, and he encouraged his family to utilize it. It was this religious background that led Rabbi Dailey to become the great leader of the Jewish faith among communities of Color.
Rabbi Dailey, z''l, who was referred to as "Mother Dailey" by most people who knew her, left Annapolis in the 1940s and relocated to Philadelphia, PA. Once here, she worked as a domestic in a Jewish home. While there she had an epiphany; there were so many things that the family did which were familiar. They were traditions that mirrored those of her family in Annapolis. She felt that this was more than a coincidence, and it was then that she began to pray for guidance and asked if The Most High would teach her "the ways of the Hebrews" with whom she so identified.
Change began immediately. She began to observe the Sabbath on Saturday, and to keep a kosher home. She also began a prayer group in her living room; people heard about it and came to pray and to hear this speaker with the indomitable spirit. The group grew by word of mouth, and soon she had a group too large for he living room to accommodate. This was in fact the early beginning of Congregation Temple Bethel. Over time, it became a formal entity, and Rabbi Dailey purchased three additional buildings in an attempt to accommodate her growing membership. Once settled at the present location on Lowber Avenue in West Oak Lane, she realized that what she needed was a Synagogue that would allow her community to worship The Most High as Jews should. She presented the idea to the congregants, and they joined in the building project which resulted in our current edifice.
Just as the Children of Israel journeyed through the Wilderness of old, so have we journeyed through a modern-day wilderness full of obstacles intended to deter us from the "Promised Land." Under the leadership of Rabbi Dailey, we trudged on and continue to do so. Our community continues to grow as our children, who have grown up knowing only Judaism, carry on the traditions taught to us by our leader, and as others hear the story, and begin the process of Teshuva (Return).
Rabbi Dailey, z''l, was the birth mother of five children, and the adoptive mother of many more. She departed this life on March 27, 2001 (Nissan 3rd), but she remains alive in our hearts.