Our Story

For over 175 years Reform Jews in Columbus have called Temple Israel their home. 

Simon Lazarus


Bene Jeshurun | Simon Lazarus

The first Jewish congregation in Central Ohio, named Bene Jeshurun, was formed by a group of eleven families. Services were led by Rabbi Simon Lazarus and held in rooms above shops on High Street, then later in homes and rented halls. The first documented Jewish wedding in Columbus took place at Bene Jeshurun in 1948.


B’nai Israel | Friend & Third Streets

During the spring of 1868, a Reform congregation, was organized. By 1871, Bene Jeshurun was dissolved and a new congregation, B’nai Israel took its place. A lot was purchased for the building and construction began at Friend and Third Streets. On May 1870, the cornerstone of the building was laid during a ceremony where the keynote address was given by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise. It was decided that the new congregation would conduct its services in English instead of Hebrew as it had previously done. By the turn of the century, more than 100 families had joined the congregation.

Bryden Rd Temple Pic Newspaper
Bryden Road Temple Post1


Temple Israel | Bryden Road

As the congregation continued to grow, a cornerstone for the new synagogue, now known as Temple Israel, was laid on Bryden Road. In 1937, a meeting of the Central Conference of American Rabbis was held in Columbus, and Temple Israel extended its hospitality. This meeting resulted in the historic Columbus Platform adopted by the Reform Movement.

Rabbi Folkman


Rabbi Jerome D. Folkman | A Growing Congregation

Rabbi Jerome Folkman was called to the Temple Israel pulpit in 1947, becoming the Temple’s longest-serving Rabbi. By 1950, membership exceeded 750 families and the first girl to celebrate becoming a Bat Mitzvah did so that year. The need for a larger space was recognized in 1954 and ground was broken on a new building located on Broad Street in 1958. 

5419 Broad Temple 1950 Postcard


5419 East Broad Street

In 1958, we broke ground at 5419 East Broad Street, and dedicated the new structure in 1959.  Social justice programs were established in the 1970s and outreach to the community marked many of Temple Israel’s activities. The congregation’s first cantor was hired in 1980 and the music program expanded. Rabbi Folkman retired in 1973.

Temple 2000 Construction


Renaissance Campaign

1996, a five-year Renaissance Campagin was launched for the renovation of Temple Israel, with the re-dedication of the building occurring in September 2000. Updates included a state-of-the-art Learning Center, expanded social hall, and remodeled worship spaces.

Temple Israel Columbus 2023


3100 E. Broad Street

After our successful Shuvu campaign, we moved into our new building at 3100 East Broad Street. Over the years our membership, location and leadership have changed, but our focus is the same–to be a beit knesset–a house of learning, worship and community. Temple Israel Columbus continues to renew itself based on the firm foundation laid over 175 years ago.