Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Congregation B'Nai Israel

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of Main Street and Exchange Street, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 9.074    W 090° 3.023
  35.15123333    -90.05038333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Congregation B'Nai Israel
(Children on Israel)
— First Permanent Jewish House of Worship in Tennesee —

Jews have been part of Tennessee’s economic, social and political life since the late 18th century. Congregation Children of Israel, chartered by the State of Tennessee, March 2, 1854, rented and eventually purchased a building near this site at Main and Exchange Streets. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism, dedicated the new synagogue, March 26, 1858. Growing rapidly, the congregation moved to larger accommodations on Poplar Avenue in 1884. It moved again to the corner of Poplar and Montgomery in 1915, and to East Massey in 1976. Congregation Children of Israel became known as Temple Israel in 1943.

The establishment of Congregation Children of Israel, in Tennessee, affirmed the American principles of freedom of religion and assembly.

Erected 2009 by Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, Shelby County Historical Commission, Temple Israel.