Congregation B'nai Israel of St. Catharines, Ontario

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Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Congregation B'nai Israel of St. Catharines, Ontario

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Description area

Dates of existence

1909-

History

In 1909, the congregation legally adopted the name Chavra B’nai Israel and R.J. Hoffman became the first president. Services were held at a variety of different homes, including those of Mr. Barnett and Mr. Zalavinsky.
After the synagogue was left a large bequest in 1917 by the Friedman family, the congregation decided to purchase the house that it had been renting earlier for $3,500. The partitions between the rooms were removed to construct the sanctuary. It still continued to house the Hebrew school and provide living accommodations for the teacher and shochtim.
Due to the expansion of the community after the First World War, the house became too small to accommodate the congregation. The community therefore began to plan for a new building. The Building Committee accepted a design submitted by Nicholson & McBeth and the shul was built by the Newman Brothers. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 14, 1924. Once the synagogue was completed, a larger ceremony took place in July 1925. Services were conducted according to Orthodox tradition and membership at that time was about 30 families.
The congregation adopted a constitution in 1945. The synagogue remained affiliated with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Mixed seating emerged during the later years of the decade, however, Orthodox rabbis continued to serve the synagogue for years to come.
In 1981, the synagogue was incorporated as a charitable and religious organization. It also joined the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism organization. At this time, membership began to decline and they were barely able to maintain a minyan for daily and Friday night services.
In May 2002, B’nai Israel celebrated the 100th anniversary of the community. The celebration included an extended Shabbat service featuring Cantor Howard Shalowitz from New York, followed by a gala dinner on Saturday night with entertainment by the Toronto band Bais Groove.

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