From the celebration of new life to the saying of Kaddish Yatom (Mourner’s Prayer), Temple B’nai Israel welcomes all who seek a closer connection to Reform Judaism to join us in honoring Shabbat, life cycle events, and the Jewish holy days.
During the year, you will enjoy participating in weekly Shabbat observances and our holiday services, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, and other events which honor and celebrate the history of our people.
Congregation B’nai Israel was officially organized in Kalamazoo by a group of 20 Jewish families. These early Jewish settlers emigrated to the Kalamazoo area from Germany. The first recorded meeting was held on October 1, 1865, and the group’s first action was to acquire land for a burial ground on property adjoining Mountain Home Cemetery on West Main Street.
This land was consecrated on December 17,1865 and is still in use today. The by-laws were signed on January 7, 1866, and Congregation B’nai Israel officially came into being. Services, conducted in German, were held in private homes by the congregation’s first rabbi, Simon Rosenberg.
In 1873 the congregation purchased a house at 152 East South Street. A temple and school building were erected on the lot, and the house was used as the rabbi’s residence. The temple dedication on January 29, 1875, was conducted by Rabbi Isaac Epstein, accompanied by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, one of the founders of Hebrew Union College (1875) and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Congregation B’nai Israel was one of the 34 founding members of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.