At Congregation B’nai Israel, we celebrate over thirty years as a group of Jews praying, learning, celebrating simchas, mourning deaths, and watching children grow up together. Our humble beginnings took place after a chance meeting of Southside Jews in the fall of 1981. A plan was devised to invite local Jews to a meeting held in the Sears Community Room at Southlake Mall in Morrow. This significant meeting took place on November 13, 1981. Thus, Congregation B’nai Israel was born. Over the years, the vision of five families has grown into a vibrant and active congregation.
Our “temple” building was actually Christ Our Hope Lutheran Church in Riverdale. For twenty years, we went about the business of transforming the church into a synagogue every Friday night and for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and other Jewish holidays and celebrations. In 1989, our vision for building a synagogue was initiated with the purchase of our land on Highway 54 at Corinth Road in Fayetteville. It took another twelve years of raising funds and holding meetings until we held our groundbreaking ceremony on April 16, 2002. Our beautiful synagogue was built, furnished, and ready five months later. It was amazingly completed just in time for Erev Rosh Hashanah on September 6, 2002.
We have two incredible Torah scrolls. Our Holocaust scroll has been on permanent loan to us from the Westminster Torah Trust in England since April 1984. This Torah had been confiscated in Sobeslav, Czechoslovakia, and catalogued by the Nazis for their “Museum of an Extinct Race.” The Holocaust Scroll was our only Torah for many years, and there was concern about how frail it was becoming. In 1997, we commissioned the writing of our own Sefer Torah, and the scribe arrived with his kosher ink and quill to finish the Torah for us on Jan 25, 1998. These two Torahs, both with phenomenal backgrounds, have become our link to the past and our path to the future.
Over the years, we have amassed a long list of religious leadership. We are fortunate that Rabbi Louis Feldstein came into our lives virtually the minute we started worship in our new synagogue in 2002. His education, insight, humor, and knowledge of Judaism have brought us to a new level of prayer. Rabbi Feldstein currently provides part-time leadership, which includes High Holiday services, B’nai Mitzvah services, Torah study, occasional Shabbat services, and other holiday and life cycle celebrations. Our own numerous, dedicated lay-leaders under the direction of Susan Burden, our Pastoral Lay leader and Cantorial soloist has consistently provided additional support for our religious experience, as well. Our history would not be complete without remembering Susan Levine, may she rest in peace, who was our first Cantorial soloist and close dear friend who played a vital role in creating our warm and inviting atmostphere.
Our history is still being written, so come and join our congregational family and set your Jewish roots with us.
Congregation B’nai Israel’s mission is to provide the Jewish community south of Atlanta with a spiritual home founded on the tenets of Reform Judaism and Tikkun Olam – our commitment to repair the world. We exist to meet our members’ needs for Jewish worship, for a Jewish education, for a sense of belonging to a shared Jewish history, culture and community, and for support during important life-cycle events and times of personal challenge.
Congregation B’nai Israel will be a welcoming, inclusive, family-oriented place of worship and gathering where all members feel engaged in a community committed to keeping Jewish tradition alive, relevant and exciting; where we support the spiritual, cultural, social and personal needs of our diverse community; and reach out to improve the world we live in.
Congregation B’nai Israel believes in the tenets of Judaism, based on the Torah, Tikkun Olam and the desire for world peace. We recognize the essential humanity of all people and the need of our members to feel embraced, cared for and respected. As well as acknowledged for who they are, where they come from, what they believe and what they do to help each other, to contribute to Congregation B’nai Israel and to repair the world.