The WEST SIDE JEWISH CENTER was organized as B'nai Israel in 1910 by 10 Orthodox families, who rented a hall at 2525 Lorain Rd. for services. The center was the second Jewish congregation founded on the west side. The first was Oheb Zedek Hungarian Congregation, an Orthodox synagogue established about 1883 at the southwest corner of Lorain Ave. and Root (W. 47th) St. That congregation was led by Rabbi David Feuerlicht, who also instructed its 34 religious school pupils, but there is no record of it after 1889. As the West Side Jewish Center congregation grew to over 120 families in the 1920s, a succession of structures were acquired: a house at 1794 W. 30th St. (1912); the Free Methodist Church building at the corner of W. 25th St. and Bridge Ave. (1918); and a newly constructed building at 1791 W. 57th St (1926). And, for burial needs, a portion of the Ridge Rd. Cemetery, 3824 Ridge Rd., was purchased from OHEB ZEDEK (Taylor Rd. Synagogue) in 1922. By 1919 the congregation had affiliated with the United Synagogue of America, the national umbrella organization for Conservative Judaism, and hired its first rabbi, Harry Cohen, a Conservative. From 1920-37 a succession of 8 rabbis served the center. The Depression led to a decline in its membership and loss, in 1937, of its building. A small house was purchased at 4101 John Ave. 3 years later. During the period 1939-57, membership averaged 55 and rabbis served for only 6 of the 18 years. In 1955, with more hope than financing, construction was begun on a 2-story building on Triskett Rd. The building was completed and occupied in early 1957. A few months later, with a lien on the building and its resources exhausted, the center merged with Beth Israel to form BETH ISRAEL-WEST TEMPLE. This merger took the one-time Orthodox congregation into the Reform movement.

Beth Israel-West Temple Records, WRHS.

Article Categories