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History

B'nai Israel on Georgia AvenueB’nai Israel is a caring community that celebrate's life's joyous moments together and supports members in times of need. We inspire individuals to chart their own spiritual journeys, engage in the larger community, and actively support Jewish life here and in Israel. 

Since its founding in a modest Georgia Avenue, NW home in 1925, through locations at 14th and Emerson Streets, NW (1929) and 16th and Crittenden Streets, NW (1951), the congregation followed Washington’s Jewish population as it grew and moved north, opening our magnificent Rockville home, the Gerald S. Snyder Building, in 1976. We are proud that some of our member families span four generations and that we continue to grow. 

In addition to observing Jewish holidays with special services and events, we celebrate Shabbat with services on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, as well as a twice-daily minyan to strengthen our community and support congregants during times of need. 

Founded in the Orthodox tradition and today embracing egalitarian Conservative practices, B’nai Israel has provided meaningful worship opportunities for its members for almost 100 years. From its first school with a handful of students to today's extensive program of educational and social opportunities for all ages, the congregation has evolved into a vital and vigorous center of Jewish life. In addition to extensive programming for adults, families, seniors, and children of all ages through our services, the Schilit Nursery School, Lessans Talmud Torah, and Lane Youth Department, our Men’s Club and Sisterhood offer popular social and service opportunities that are open to all. 

In the late 1990s the congregation launched a campaign to build the educational facility that would complete the original vision for our Rockville campus. Through the extraordinary generosity of our members, the Thelma and Melvin Lenkin Educational and Activities Center completed the campus of B'nai Israel Congregation in 2003. That campaign also raised funds to renovate and modernize the 1976 building and establish an endowment for ongoing maintenance. 

In the early days of COVID-19, we embraced technology to offer services and most of our programs via Zoom and livestream. We held limited-attendance in-person High Holiday services in 2020, with many more joining a Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur service online. More than 1,000 congregants returned to in-person services in 2021, once again filling our building with the joy of communal worship, all while observing local guidelines for COVID safety. 

We invite you to explore our website to learn more about all that B’nai Israel has to offer. And we hope that you will be in touch to tell us about yourself, ask questions, and become a part of this special community. 

Click here for a more detailed version of B’nai Israel’s complete history. 

*History edited by Peggy Pearlstein and Rob Loewy in 2022. 

Wed, October 5 2022 10 Tishrei 5783