The Congregation Beth Israel was formed by a group of twenty-four men with the aim of establishing a synagogue to practice Reform Judaism in February 1895. By 1896 a synagogue was built on a plot of land at 11th and State Street, and a section of Morris Hill Cemetery was established as a Jewish burial site. The Congregation adapted their religious practice to the frontier lifestyle; they did not employ a rabbi, wear traditional garments, or keep kosher.
In 1908 Adath Israel, an Orthodox congregation, was established. Members followed traditional Jewish rituals closely and employed a rabbi. Through the 1920s and 1930s both Beth Israel and Adath Israel struggled to maintain membership and gathered less frequently throughout the year. Adath Israel became inactive until after World War II when an influx of Jews to the Boise area led to the reestablishment and renaming of the congregation to Ahavath Israel. Congregation Ahavath Israel chose to practice Conservative Judaism, and in 1949 opened a synagogue at 27th and Bannock.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Jewish population of Boise again declined, and both congregations saw a slowdown in membership and attendance until the early 1970s. The increase in demand for services led to the creation of a joint Sunday School during the 1973/1974 school year. Both congregations provided teachers and an effort was made to equally represent the religious practices of both congregations.
The combining of Sunday School marked the beginning of a more cooperative relationship between the two congregations. Joint services for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs began and coordinated efforts to raise funds for education and regional Jewish organizations became common. Although the congregations continued to disagree on certain issues, specifically the sharing of the plots at Morris Hill Cemetery, the congregations decided to merge in 1986 becoming Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel.
The Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel digital collection is part of a larger collection that is in the care of the Boise City Archives. The digitial collection will continue to grow as we work through the collection. To find out more about CABI's collection please click on the "Find Out More" button below.