Qabbalat Shabbat: Friday, 6:00 p.m. Torah Study: Saturday, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Weekday Minyan: 6:15 p.m.

Our History

"From its beginning in 1854 as a traditional German shul to its current status as the largest Reform Synagogue in New England, Temple Israel has been an important force in Boston and American Jewish life. The congregation's ongoing efforts to adapt to changes in American society while preserving balance - between tradition and innovation, between acculturation and distinctiveness - exemplify the transformations in religious worship practices, education, and social justice that mark modern American Reform Judaism."

Becoming American Jews,
Brandeis University Press

1.6.1 Wakefield cemeteryWakefield Cemetery

2.5 Columbus Avenue synagogue

Columbus Avenue Building

Rabbi Levi

Rabbi Harry Levi

3.14 Meeting House

Meeting House

king.heschel.eisendrath

Martin Luther King, Jr. in Boston

becoming american jews

Becoming American Jews

The introduction of Temple Israel’s healing services in the 1990’s as a response to the AIDS crisis.

Key Moments in TI History

1854

Founding of Temple Adath Israel by 25 families from southeastern Germany who broke from Ohabei Shalom along with Rabbi Joseph Sachs

1859

Purchase of the Wakefield Cemetery

1885

Dedication of Columbus Avenue synagogue building: Indicative of the growing size and wealth of congregation, influence of its members and leaders.

1894

Founding of Auxiliary Society – This society was the first internal temple organization dedicated to social service, cultural activity, education, and social functions

1907

Dedication of Commonwealth Avenue Temple built by Clarence Blackall: Attended by prominent Jewish and political leaders, the dedication of the new temple building demonstrates the growing size of the congregation, as well as the rising influence of its members and leaders in the community

1911-1939

Installation of Rabbi Harry Levi led to changes within the religious school by implementing new policies such as paying teachers, establishing branch schools, and refocusing the curriculum on more traditional Jewish subjects

1913

First Congregational Seder: “For the first time we liberal Jews indicated that we wanted to participate in old Pesach traditions with our own version,” Abram Vossen Goodman. This seder was the first to follow the Reform-sponsored Union Haggadah.

1924

Radio Broadcasts: Rabbi Levi’s first radio broadcasts of sermons launched a new era of interfaith educational efforts by taking advantage of Levi’s “genius for selling Judaism to Christians,” his speaking ability, and advances in radio technology led to his being known as the “Radio Rabbi”.

1923-1927

New Meeting House: The building of a new meeting house represented the congregation’s commitment to Jewish education, social and cultural activities, and its growing membership.

1950's & 1960's

Social Action Committee: With his installation in 1954, Rabbi Gittelsohn brought a new commitment to social action to Temple Israel during his tenure. Some important projects included the Boston Ruleville Interfaith Committee (BRIC), and Rev. Martin Luther King’s visit to Boston in 1965.

1969-1971

Israel Week/Expo Israel: These celebrations demonstrate Temple Israel’s new connection with Israel, its heritage, and its current political plight.

1972

Installation of Murray Simon as the Temple’s First Cantor

1973

Completion of a new sanctuary as part of the expanded Riverway campus. Sculpture, Sky Covenant commissioned by Jewish sculptor Louise Nevelson placed in front of entrance

1977

Rabbi Mehlman becomes senior rabbi and remains in this position until 1999

1986

First gay family joins the congregation of Temple Israel

1990

Rabbi Elaine Zecher becomes the first female Rabbi at Temple Israel

1993

Opening of the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center under director Helen Cohen

1999

Rabbi Ronne Friedman succeeds Rabbi Mehlman as Senior Rabbi

2004

150th Anniversary of Temple Israel; after Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize gay marriage, gay marriage ceremonies are held at Temple Israel

2009

Publication of Becoming American Jews: Temple Israel of Boston by Meaghan Dwyer-Ryan, Susan L. Porter, and Lisa Fagin Davis (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2009). Every member family is entitled to a copy of Becoming American Jews, courtesy of the Wyner family, and Emily’s Table, courtesy of the friends of Emily Mehlman, z”l.

2016

Rabbi Elaine Zecher succeeds Rabbi Ronne Friedman as Senior Rabbi, and becomes Temple Israel’s first female Senior Rabbi