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about us

Our History

History 1950

Congregation B’nai Israel was founded on January 5, 1922 when 35 Jewish men met at Red Bank’s Borough Hall to elect a president and officers. At their first official meeting, in their temporary synagogue on top of the Kreidel Store at the corner of Broad and West Front Streets, a decision was made to purchase a building at 10 Riverside Drive for use as a permanent location. On January 23, 1922, the building was purchased. The cost of the property was $12,000. Sigmund Eisner, president of the Sigmund Eisner Company in Red Bank was the largest benefactor, donating $1,000 to the synagogue and a vacant lot on West Front Street.

 

The Congregation began its operations with a membership of 40 families, a Board of Education, Religious Committee, Financial Committee, House Committee and Building Committee were formed. By 1925, membership reached 100 families.

 

In November 1932 Congregation B’nai Israel became incorporated and the name was changed to Congregation B’nai Israel of Greater Red Bank. In July 1933, a search committee was appointed to find a permanent rabbi who was to “serve the community at large in the capacity of a spiritual leader, Hebrew teacher and organizer of junior groups.” The committee selected Rabbi Arthur Hershon. Rabbi Hershon is fondly remembered for his interfaith work in the local community, delivering Yom Kippur sermons in Yiddish and serving as Chaplain at Fort Monmouth.

 

History 1960During the 1940s, there were over 230 families in the synagogue. The Red Bank Hebrew Cemetery in New Shrewsbury (now Tinton Falls) was acquired and the first community memorial service was conducted at the site. The first Bar Mitzvah class was held and the first of many community Seders was launched.

 

By the end of 1947 there were close to 150 children in the religious school. A decision was made to sell the Riverside Avenue building and build a new house of worship. A site on Spring Street in Red Bank was proposed but on July 29, 1955, the present location at 171 Ridge Road in Rumson was selected. The cost of the six-acre site was $4,000.

 

On March 7, 1956, construction of the new building began. On May 16, 1958, on the tenth anniversary of the independent State of Israel, the first service was held in the newly built synagogue. About 380 families were associated with the congregation at that time.

 

In 1959, after 27 years of dedicated and dynamic spiritual leadership, Rabbi Hershon retired and became Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Gilbert Rosenthal and Cantor Sidney Scarff were hired. While Rabbi Rosenthal resigned in March 1964, Cantor Sharff served the congregation until his retirement in 1979.

 

In June 1964, Rabbi Jack Rosoff, who had served as Jewish Chaplain at Ft. Monmouth became the new spiritual leader of the congregation. In 1966, in the new sanctuary, the synagogue’s stained glass windows, created by David Kosakoff were dedicated.

 

In April 1971, the Congregation voted to approve an addition to the building to create a Youth Wing with a youth lounge, classrooms, a chapel and a gymnasium. In 1972 construction of the new wing was completed and celebrated in conjunction with the Congregation’s 50th Anniversary.

 

History 1980In 1980, Cantor Michael Charnofsky was hired. He served until 1987 when Cantor Marla Barugel, one of the first two female hazzans ordained in Conservative Judaism, was hired. In 1989, the newly formed Congregational Choir chanted on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. During the 1980s Gan Yeladim, the Congregation’s Jewish preschool, was opened. Ima and Me and a Pre-k enrichment program also began.


In 1998, after 34 years of outstanding spiritual leadership, Rabbi Rosoff retired and became Rabbi Emeritus. After that time, the congregation was lead by Rabbi Harry Levin, Rabbi Robert E. Fine and Rabbi Andrew Bloom. In 2009, the Bima, the Ark, the sanctuary and the social hall were renovated and a special dedication ceremony took place.

 

In 2011, shortly after Rabbi Bloom’s contract expired, Rabbi Jeff Sultar became interim rabbi for the 2011-2012 year. In 2012 the congregation elected Rabbi Sultar as its permanent spiritual leader.


More detailed information about the synagogue’s history can be found in the book Congregation B’nai Israel of Greater Red Bank, New Jersey (1982), available in the Dorothy Spiwak Memorial Library at Congregation B’nai Israel.