April 20, 2017 • 24 Nisan 5777

History

Congregation Beth Israel began in 1998 as a community Chavurah whose members had relocated to Northeast Tarrant County from other areas of the country and sought to create a substitute extended Jewish family here. The Chavurah began at a Yom Kippur breakfast sponsored by Anna Eisen, Sue Feingold and Beth Fishman at the Colleyville Community Center. The Chavurah organized Shabbat services and potluck dinners at the Colleyville Community Center, with Lloyd Fishman, husband of Beth Fishman, serving as lay leader with the help of other members of the growing Jewish Community. Other activities such as the Hanukkah Hoe Down and the Community Seder soon followed.

CBI’s status as a Chavurah was short-lived. Within months of its founding, the leaders turned to establishing a synagogue. A feasibility study by the leadership determined that there was widespread support for creating a synagogue, and by early 1999 planning had begun for Northeast Tarrant County’s first Jewish congregation.

Congregation Beth Israel was officially established on July 18, 1999 with 25 member families and affiliation with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now the Union of Reform Judaism. Services were held in a rented church facility on Industrial Blvd. in Colleyville and the religious school opened under the direction of Sue Feingold with 75 children enrolled.

CBI’s first High Holiday services were held at the Colleyville Community Center. A portable Aron Kodesh, designed and built by Dr. Bernie Gojer with help from his wife Sarah, his son Ben and Elliott Simon, housed a borrowed Torah. The High Holiday prayer books were donated by the Eisen family.

The following year the congregation purchased a 100-150 year old Torah from Eastern Europe that had survived the Holocaust. The Eisen family purchased and donated the land at 6100 Pleasant Run Road that is now the location of our synagogue. An architect was hired, prayer books were donated by the Heymann family, and Ruth Morris became CBI’s first Bat Mitzvah.

In 2001, with a membership of 60 families, the congregation welcomed its first student rabbi, Dan Plotkin. The religious school moved to the First United Methodist Church of Colleyville and progress continued on the building design.

In 2002, services joined the religious school at the First United Methodist Church of Colleyville, thanks to Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Gary Kindley and the church board members who made this possible. Our Ritual Chair, Ed Kerstein, with his wife Michele, would transform the Christian sanctuary to accommodate Jewish worship each Shabbat. Lew Friedland, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee, raised the money necessary to start construction on the new building. And CBI welcomed its second student rabbi, Jeff Brown, who remained with CBI for two years. Karen Reid filled the role of musical soloist at Shabbat and High Holiday services.

2003 marked the year for the land dedication and ground breaking, which was attended by Colleyville community officials. In 2004, Micah Streiffer served as the third student rabbi and the building was near completion.

The grand opening for the new building with a 160-seat sanctuary was held on the weekend of January 21-23, 2005. The ark and the Eternal Light were designed by Diane Prager. The Prager family donated the Eternal Light and Sisterhood donated the kitchen supplies.

The fourth and last student rabbi, Bill Tepper, was welcomed to CBI in September, 2005. By then the congregation had reached the target number of families for hiring a full-time rabbi. A feasibility study was conducted and in July, 2006 Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker was welcomed to our congregation and he continues to serve our community today.

Over the last several years CBI has added administrative staff and a part-time Education Director. We also celebrated our Bat Mitzvah in 2013, as have over a hundred of our children.
 
CBI is a full-service synagogue serving the needs of the Jewish community of Northeast Tarrant County. Our 2015 membership exceeds 180 households.

Copyright 2012. Congregation Beth Israel. All rights reserved.