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Congregation Beth Israel is without a doubt one of Portland's architectural gems. It was built in 1928 and designed by Herman Brookman in the Neo-Byzantine style. The temple features two towers and a large dome covering the sanctuary. It was hailed as an architectural masterpiece upon completion and this is still true today. The congregation, which adheres to Reform Judaism, was founded in 1858 (before Oregon was declared a state). The congregation offers a wide variety of educational and religious programs including youth and groups, a preschool and religious school, and opportunities to participate in social justice activities. The temple is part of a complex of buildings that include an education center and a family center.


  • Congregation Beth Israel was founded in 1858. The current temple was built in 1928, a few years after the previous structure was destroyed in a fire. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
  • The 1889 temple. It was destroyed in a fire in 1923.

The first temple the congregation built was a simple one-story wooden structure constructed in 1859. At that time there were 30 families in the congregation. Over time, the congregation grew, prompting the construction of another temple in 1889. This was a large, handsome Gothic, Moorish Revival structure that sadly burned down in a fire in 1923. Thankfully the congregation was able to build the current temple in 1928.  

Horn, John and Elwyn, Reed. "Temple Beth Israel." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. July 26, 1979.  https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/273653f8-f919-46b8-a864-ff2993578cc2/.

"Mission and History." Congregation Beth Israel. Accessed February 24, 2017. http://www.bethisrael-pdx.org/about/mission-and-history.