Congregation B'Nai Israel

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The history of Jews in Oshkosh dates back to 1870-80 when the Wisconsin Jewish Archives indicate that there were two to three Jewish merchants in the community.

In 1895 there were enough families to form an organization that received recognition from the State of Wisconsin as a religious congregation. On May 9, 1895, with fewer than 15 families, B'Nai Israel became a congregation. There was no sanctuary at that time so religious services were held at the home of Peter Ress on 11th and Minnesota. The original by-laws were written in Yiddish, the entrance fee was $3.00 and dues were 40 cents per month.

By 1902, the congregation began to look for a permanent building to use as a synagogue. A piece of property was purchased for $925 at the corner of 9th and Nebraska. This was a small wooden building that was mortgaged for $800.


In 1901, Rabbi Louis M. Edelson became the congregation's first Rabbi. He served for 33 years until his death. His salary was $12.50 per week plus $50 for acting as hazan for High Holidays. The first wedding was held on December 26, 1904, when Abe Segal married Bertha Scholomovitz.

The congregation remained in its first building until 1948, when a new Temple was built at the present location of 1121 Algoma Blvd. Originally Orthodox, the congregation joined the Reform movement when it moved into the new building.

The number of members has fluctuated during the century of the B'nai Israel's existence but has generally been in the range of 60 to 100 families.


Congregation B'Nai Israel * 1121 Algoma Blvd. * P.O. Box 904 * Oshkosh, WI * 54903-0904