Boise Jewish Community Celebrates 125th Anniversary of Idaho’s First Synagogue

Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise, Idaho, Jan. 2, 2010. Photo: Kenneth Freeman via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a proclamation on Monday recognizing 125 years of Jewish history in the state.

“I, Brad Little, governor of the state of Idaho, do hereby proclaim the year of 2020 on January 20th to be the 125th anniversary of Idaho’s Jewish community in Idaho,” he said at a ceremony at the governor’s office. “And I call upon the people of Idaho to celebrate the heritage and contributions of Idaho Jews to observe this anniversary year with appropriate program activities and ceremonies.”

Congregation Beth Israel was established in 1895 by Moses Alexander, who became mayor of Boise and later Idaho’s 11th governor. It was mostly comprised of Central European immigrants.

The building went up a year later in 1896, making it one of the oldest in continuous use in the Western part of the United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 13, 1972.

The synagogue was restored in 1982, maintaining much of its original architecture, including wood shingles.

Congregation Ahavath Israel was founded in 1912 by Eastern Europe immigrants and built a synagogue in 1947. The two congregations merged in 1986 to become Ahavath Beth Israel.

The founder’s grandson, 89-year-old Nathan Alexander, is said to still be a member of the congregation.

There are currently 2,125 Jews in Idaho, according to the Jewish Federations of North America.

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