Our History

The Story of Temple Israel

1850   Twelve Jews, under the leadership of Joseph Lebensburger, met in the old Dayton Bank Building to form a Hebrew Society dedicated to worship and perpetuation of their joint heritage.
1854   The Hebrew Society incorporated as Kehillah Kodesh B’nai Yeshurun.
1860   The rapidly growing congregation moved to larger quarters near First and Main Streets. Congregation purchased its first home, a former Baptist church at the northeast corner of 4th and Jefferson Streets, for $4,500.
1893   The old synagogue was sold and a new house of worship constructed at the corner of First and Jefferson Streets.
1913   The area around K.K. B’nai Yeshurun was heavily flooded and great damage occurred to the synagogue during the Dayton Flood.
1925   Under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Samuel S. Mayerberg, a new structure was built at the corner of Salem and Emerson Avenues with a sanctuary seating six hundred, a social hall, classrooms, offices and a kitchen. The congregation’s name was changed to Temple Israel.
1953   During the tenure of Rabbi Selwyn D. Ruslander (who served Temple Israel from 1947 until his death in 1969), a modern sanctuary was built and directly connected to the original building.
1973   Rabbi P. Irving Bloom became rabbi, and many innovations followed: a new Religious School Hebrew curriculum; Focus on Friday programs with enriching speakers during the year; Scholar-in-Residence programs with Temple Beth Or and Beth Abraham Synagogue; adult Jewish studies classes; lay-led summer services with Beth Abraham.
1994   The congregation moved into its new home at on Riverside Drive.
1997   Rabbi Bloom retired, and Rabbi Marc Gruber became Temple’s religious leader and during his tenure introduced adult B’not Mitzvah classes; worship reform; participation in Synagogue 2000, and other innovative programs.
2000   Temple Israel celebrated its Sesquicentennial with a full year of exciting religious, cultural, social and social action programs that involved hundreds of congregants as well as the local community.
2002   Rabbi Gruber left Temple to become Rabbi at Central Synagogue of Nassau County in Rockville Center, NY. Rabbi Michael Remson stepped in to lead us through the transition to our next Rabbi.
2003   Rabbi David Sofian joined Temple Israel to build on the legacy of those who have come before and to create a rich and vibrant future for the congregation.
2008   Temple dedicates a Torah commissioned by the congregation in which members have inscribed letters, fulfilling the commandment to write a Torah during their lifetimes.
2011   Temple hosts its first Jewish Cultural Festival.
2016   Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz becomes first female senior rabbi to lead the congregation.