Congregation B'nai Israel
Congregation B'nai Israel is the first congregationally owned synagogue west of the Mississippi River. It was founded in 1852 by Hyman Moses, a jewelry merchant who for a few years prior had offered his house (where his store was located) as a place for Jews to worship. For his role in leading the effort to found the congregation, he has been called the "Father of Temple Israel." He also led the Hebrew Benevolent Society which took care of the poor and sick. Today, the congregation is a thriving community, serving as a place for worship and social gathering. The community is also active in social justice and interfaith issues.
Backstory and Context
Tragically, the congregation has suffered two incidents of antisemitism. The first occurred in 1993 when it was firebombed and the second in June 1999, when two men set it (and two other synagogues) ablaze, causing extensive and expensive damage. In response, the local community gave its full support for the Jewish community, attending a rally the congregation held a few days after the arson attack.
"History - How Beautiful is Our Heritage." Congregation B'nai Israel. Accessed February 2017. http://www.bnais.com/index.php/about-us/our-history.
Photos: David Wakely Photography