TIFERETH ISRAEL, also known as the Temple, was established on 26 May 1850 and is Cleveland's second-oldest existing Jewish congregation. Several members of ANSHE CHESED left that congregation in a dispute over religious ritual and founded Tifereth Israel, which means "glory of Israel." The new congregation hired Rabbi ISIDOR KALISCH (1850-55), who had assumed the Anshe Chesed pulpit a few months earlier. A $3,000 bequest from the estate of New Orleans philanthropist Judah Touro (2 Mar. 1854) served as the foundation of a fundraising campaign. A synagogue was erected at Huron and Miami streets, dedicated on 14 Dec. 1855.

Tifereth Israel soon began instituting reforms. Synagogue remodeling in 1861 featured family pews (ending the traditional separation of the sexes during religious services) and installation of an organ. A choir formed, and 5 years later the congregation adopted the Minhag America, a distinctly American Reform prayerbook. During the tenures of rabbis Jacob Mayer (1867-74) and Aaron Hahn (1874-92), Tifereth Israel adopted more reforms. In 1873 the congregation joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the newly formed lay Reform organization.

MOSES J. GRIES became rabbi in 1892, and during his 25 years he led Tifereth Israel into the forefront of Reform Judaism. In 1894 the congregation dedicated a new synagogue at Willson Ave. (E. 55th St.) and became known as the Willson Ave. Temple, or simply, the Temple. Rabbi Gries introduced the concept of the open synagogue and, with MARTIN MARKS, president of the congregation for 23 years, established such programs as a Women's Assn. (1897), a library (1898), a gymnasium (1901), and an orchestra (1916). The congregation adopted the Union Prayer Book, Hebrew was dropped from the Sunday school curriculum and from much of the religious service, and Sabbath services moved from Saturday to Sunday.

Rabbi ABBA HILLEL SILVER succeeded Gries in 1917 and served until his death in 1963. Silver discontinued purely recreational and social programs and concentrated on cultural and religious activities. By 1920 most of the Temple's membership had moved east to WADE PARK and the Heights. A large parcel of land was purchased at Ansel Rd. and E. 105th St. Architect Charles R. Greco designed a $1.5 million synagogue, dedicated in Sept. 1924. The new sanctuary seated 2,000 but, by 1945, the Temple's membership was so great that on High Holy Days branch services were held in SEVERANCE HALL. Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver began assisting at Tifereth Israel in 1956 and succeeded his father. He served the Temple until he died in 1989. Following World War II, the Temple's members again moved east. In 1969 the congregation dedicated the Temple Branch in BEACHWOOD. Although holding many services and activities at the branch, in Dec. 1990 Tifereth Israel rededicated its UNIV. CIRCLE sanctuary in memory of Abba Hillel and Daniel Silver.

In 1994 and 1995, the Temple underwent a complete interior renovation which included the installation of additional showcases for museum exhibits in the East Bldg. In 1995 Rabbi Benjamin Alon Kamin served the congregation's 1,600 families.

Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

View image in Digital Cleveland Starts Here®

Finding aid for the Temple-Tifereth Israel Photographs, WRHS.


Cleveland Historical Logo

View more on Cleveland Historical



Article Categories