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.