Congregation Beth Israel 1899

Celebrating Idaho's Jewish community and its pioneering founders, 1895
L'chaim - To Life!

On February 17, 1895, twenty-four Boise Jews met at the residence of Moses Alexander. The group planned to buy property to build a synagogue, establish a Jewish burial ground, bestow charity, provide support to each other in times of need and educate their fellow Jews in the tenets of Judaism.

This meeting formed Congregation Beth Israel and laid the foundation for the continuing practice of Judaism in Idaho. By the summer of 1895, the Congregation had purchased a 100’ by 122’ lot on the corner of Eleventh and State streets. Within a year, the Moorish-style synagogue building was completed.

Designed by the architectural firm of Chestney and Schroeder, the building was patterned after synagogues in Spain. The final structure, still in use today, incorporated Boise sandstone, cedar shingles and stained glass windows, and many of its components, such as the stained glass windows and most of the sandstone, are original. The synagogue is the oldest in continuous use west of the Mississippi River. In 1972, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Congregation Beth Israel merged with the other established synagogue of Boise, Congregation Ahavath Israel, in 1986 to become Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel. In 2003, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel relocated the synagogue building to its larger current site on Latah Street in Boise—an event that attracted national press attention—and constructed an adjacent community building. Located in the heart of the city, the synagogue continues to serve as a hub of Jewish life in Boise and in the wider community of Idaho.

Read more about Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel.


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