Temple Israel (Boston, MA)

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Temple Israel, Boston, Massachusetts

Temple Israel was founded as Congregation Adath Israel in 1854, when a group of German Jews broke from Congregation Ohabei Shalom. Also known as the Pleasant Street Synagogue, in 1859 the congregation purchased land for a cemetery in Wakefield, Massachusetts. The synagogue was, and remains, a Reform congregation.

In 1864, Nathan Strauss and fellow congregants of Adath Israel (Temple Israel) and Ohabei Shalom formed the United Hebrew Benevolent Association (UHBA; a forerunner to Combined Jewish Philanthropies.) Temple Israel's Rabbi, Solomon Schindler, later became the first Superintendent of the UHBA.

As with other Boston synagogues, Temple Israel moved several times in response to membership growth and changes in population. However, unlike synagogues in Roxbury and Dorchester, Temple Israel remained in Boston from its establishment. In 1885, the congregation moved to a new location on Columbus Avenue, and in 1907, it moved to Commonwealth Avenue (the building is now Morse Auditorium at Boston University.) In the late 1920s, the congregation began building a structure on the Riverway in the Longwood section of Boston, a plan that was interrupted by the stock market crash of 1929 and World War II. A meeting house and school were dedicated in 1928, with an addition built in 1974.

Temple Israel was well known throughout Boston and the nation, particularly due to the congregation's Rabbis. In addition to Rabbi Schindler, Temple Israel was the congregation of Rabbis Joshua Loth Liebman (1939-1948), author of the bestselling book, Peace of Mind (1946) and Roland B. Gittelsohn (1953-1977), first Jewish chaplain of the U.S. Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) and author.

  • 1854: Congregation Adath Israel (Pleasant Street synagogue) is founded with a group of German Jews that broke away from Congregation Ohabei Shalom.
  • 1854 - 1856 : Joseph Sachs serves as Rabbi.
  • 1856 - 1874 : Joseph Shoninger serves as Rabbi.
  • 1859: The congregation buys land for a cemetery in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
  • 1864: United Hebrew Benevolent Association is founded by Nathan Strauss and other men from Adath Israel and Ohabei Shalom.
  • 1874 - 1894 : Solomon Schindler serves as Rabbi.
  • 1885: The congregation moves to Columbus Avenue, Boston.
  • 1894 - 1911 : Charles Fleischer serves as Rabbi.
  • 1907: The congregation moves to Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.
  • 1911 - 1939 : Harry Levi serves as Rabbi.
  • 1928: New meeting house and school dedicated at the new location on the Riverway, in the Longwood section of Boston.
  • 1939 - 1948 : Joshua Loth Liebman serves as Rabbi.
  • 1949 - 1953 : Abraham J. Klausner serves as Rabbi.
  • 1953 - 1977 : Roland Gittelsohn serves as Rabbi.
  • 1974: Addition built on Riverway structure.
  • 1977 - 1999 : Bernard H. Mehlman serves as Rabbi.


1 Information for this administrative sketch is from the following resources: "Historic Moments." Temple Israel of Boston. August 16, 2010 ( http://www.tisrael.org/historicmoments.asp ) Sarna, Jonathan D. and Ellen Smith. The Jews of Boston . Boston: Combined Jewish Philanthropies, 1995 Materials from the collection.

From the guide to the Temple Israel (Boston, MA), records, 1924-1996, (American Jewish Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Temple Israel (Boston, Mass.) Records Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Congregation Adath Israel (Boston, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Gittelsohn, Roland Bertram, 1910- person
associatedWith Liebman, Joshua Loth, 1907-1948 person
associatedWith Temple Ohabei Shalom (Brookline, Mass.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Boston (Mass.)
Associations, institutions, etc.

Corporate Body

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