Beth Israel Sinai Congregation

3009 Washington Avenue, Racine, WI 53405
Telephone: 262-633-7093
Tree Of Life

Beth Israel Sinai History

Jews settled in Racine as early as the 1850s. The first Jewish congregation in Racine was B'nai Yehuda, an Orthodox congregation which was founded in 1901. In 1910, the congregation changed its name to B'nai Yehuda Anshe Sholom. An orthodox congregation, it held services in Hebrew; men wore a tallit (prayer shawl) and yarmulke (skullcap); there was no music; and there was separate seating for men and women. In 1915, a Reform Jewish congregation, Sinai Congregation, was founded. Its services were in English; it had organ music and a choir; it had mixed seating; and men did not wear tallitot or yarmulkes. Finally, in 1921, Beth Israel Congregation was founded. It was originally founded as an Orthodox congregation.

Sinai Congregation and Beth Israel Congregation merged in 1925 to form a single synagogue, Beth Israel Sinai Congregation. To unite the Racine Jewish community, the new synagogue was organized as a Conservative congregation. It would have mixed seating of men and women; services would be in Hebrew and translated into English; there would be no choir or instrumental music, and men would wear the traditional tallitot and yarmulkes. The new shul (synagogue) was large enough to afford the services of a rabbi, and Rabbi Aaron Cohen became Beth Israel Sinai's first rabbi. He was also the first rabbi in Racine. Rabbi Cohen served Beth Israel Sinai from 1925 to 1937. The shul was housed in Beth Israel's building, a house at 10th Street and Villa on Racine's south side.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1941, several members went into the Armed Forces. In all, 143 members of the Jewish community in Racine went into the military during the war. Of those, four died during the war: David Gordon, Norman Gordon, Leonard Hulbert and Harvey Shovers. In 1943, Beth Israel Sinai was able to retire the mortgage on its building, and plans were made to build another synagogue. In 1945, the Jewish Welfare Council of Racine was founded to assist individuals and institutions in need.

In 1953, Beth Israel Sinai built a new synagogue at 10th Street and Main Street near downtown Racine. B'nai Yehuda Anshe Sholom closed in 1962. Beth Israel Sinai stayed in the Main Street building until December of 2016, when it moved to its current location at 3009 Washington Avenue.


Today, led by Rabbi Martyn Adelberg, Beth Israel Sinai Congregation continues as the heart of the Jewish community in Racine. Shabbat services are held every Saturday morning at 9:45 a.m. All are welcome, and no reservations are necessary.

Chanukah at BIS


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