Congregation Beth Israel (Portland, Oregon)

Congregation Beth Israel is a Reform Jewish congregation and synagogue, located at 1931 NW Flanders Street, Portland, Oregon, in the United States.

Congregation Beth Israel
Temple Beth Israel
AffiliationReform Judaism
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusSynagogue
Location1931 NW Flanders Street, Portland, Oregon
CountryUnited States
Congregation Beth Israel (Portland, Oregon) is located in Portland, Oregon
Congregation Beth Israel (Portland, Oregon)
Location in Portland, Oregon
Geographic coordinates45°31′34″N 122°41′28″W / 45.52611°N 122.69111°W / 45.52611; -122.69111
Date established1858 (as a congregation)
  • 1859 (wooden synagogue)
  • 1889 (destroyed by 1923 fire)
  • 1928 (NRHP-listed site)
Temple Beth Israel
Part ofAlphabet Historic District[1] (ID00001293)
NRHP reference No.79002141
Added to NRHPJuly 26, 1979



The congregation was founded in 1858, while Oregon was still a territory, and built its first synagogue in 1859.[2]

The congregation's first building was a modest, single story, pitched-roof, wood-framed, clapboard building with Gothic pointed-arch windows and door.[3]: 14 

Postcard depicting the 1889 synagogue; destroyed by fire in 1923.

This early structure was replaced by an 1889 synagogue building, which was destroyed by fire in December 1923.[4][5] Designed by Portland architect Warren H. Williams, the building, described as Moorish Revival design in some sources,[5] is elsewhere described as a combination of eclectic and Gothic Revival styles, with two towers topped by bulbous domes.[3]: 55  The Oregonian newspaper in 1923 described its style as "semi-Gothic and Mooresque".[4] It was located at S.W. 12th and Main Streets in downtown Portland. Its two towers were 165 ft (50 m) tall, and the main interior space measured 82 by 56 feet (25 m × 17 m), and featured an arched ceiling 52 feet (16 m) high.[4]

It was replaced in 1928 by a notable Neo-Byzantine synagogue building at N.W. 19th and Flanders that continues to serve the congregation. This building was listed as Temple Beth Israel on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979,[6] and is considered one of the finest examples of Neo-Byzantine-style architecture on the west coast. The building was inspired by the Alte Synagoge (Steelerstrasse Synagogue) in Essen, Germany.[7][8][9][10] The interior of Steelerstrasse, the first modern synagogue in Germany, was praised as Germany's most beautiful; however it was destroyed during Kristallnacht.[8]

See also



  1. ^ Harrison, Michael; Lutino, Cielo; Mickle, Liza; Mye, Peter; Cunningham, Bill; Gauthier, Stephanie (March 20, 2000), National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Alphabet Historic District (PDF), retrieved June 3, 2015.
  2. ^ "About: Facilities". Beth Israel Portland. Archived from the original on April 8, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Nodel, Julius J.; Asper, Alfred (1959). The Ties that Bind; A Century of Judaism on America's Last Frontier. Portland, Oregon: Temple Beth Israel.
  4. ^ a b c "Fire Destroys Big Synagogue". The Sunday Oregonian. December 30, 1923. pp. 1, 6.
  5. ^ a b "Temple Beth Israel: Portland, OR". National Museum of American Jewish History. 2004. Archived from the original on February 24, 2008.
  6. ^ "Oregon National Register List" (PDF). Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department. June 6, 2011. p. 41. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 16, 2006. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  7. ^ "Architecture in Oregon: Treasures". Architecture Foundation of Oregon. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Essen". Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  9. ^ Horn, Jon; Elwyn, Reed (April 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: M. Lloyd Frank Estate" (pdf). National Park Service.
  10. ^ Vaughan, Thomas (1974). Space, style, and structure: building in Northwest America. Oregon Historical Society. p. 481. ISBN 0-87595-047-7. OCLC 1120954.