Our History

Temple Beth Israel has a long and rich history. On September 1, 1861, the Jewish Congregation of Plattsburgh was incorporated and purchased a building to be used as our first synagogue. More than 150 years later, Temple Beth Israel remains an anchor of North Country Jewry.

Beginning as an orthodox congregation, we became “Beth Israel Congregation” in 1878.  The character of the congregation and worship style evolved in the late 1800s, and in 1913 Beth Israel Congregation joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now known as The Union for Reform Judaism.

In 1917, immigrant Eastern European orthodox Jews built a second synagogue and formed Congregation Ahavas Sholom.   Decreasing membership led to the closing of Ahavas Sholom in 1969.  Remaining funds and select sacred items from this synagogue came into the possession of Beth Israel Congregation.  In time, our congregation became commonly known as Temple Beth Israel. 

The current synagogue and classrooms were planned and constructed in 1969 and 1970.  Its beautiful sanctuary, social hall, library and school also house several notable works of art, “The Menorah,”  a silk tapestry by Ben Shahn, “King David,” a tapestry by Marc Chagall , “Mizrach,” a paper cut by Cantor Jacob Hochfelder, and “Remembering the Six Million,” a bronze sculpture by Frank Eliscu, among them.

Today’s Temple Beth Israel members come from a wide geographic area, covering the North Country region defined by Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties.  In services, programs, and events, Temple Beth Israel’s members continue to write its history.