Shalom and welcome to Birmingham! We at The Birmingham Jewish Federation want to provide you with some information about the Jewish community. Below, you will find information about local synagogues/temples, Jewish agencies, schools, and Jewish resources. Don’t let these pages fool you, however. Our Birmingham Jewish community is very much three dimensional. You’ll have to experience it for yourself to believe it!
HISTORY OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
The first three Jewish families that arrived in Birmingham in 1873 were attracted by potential business opportunities in the burgeoning coal and iron ore industries. In 1881, a dozen families gathered for the first Rosh Hashanah services, which were held in a private home. The 1880s saw a great influx of Jews to Birmingham and in 1882 Temple Emanu-El was formally created. With a membership of 100 families, the Reform congregation dedicated its first synagogue building in 1889.
Knesseth Israel, a young Orthodox congregation, erected its first synagogue in 1903 to serve the large numbers of Eastern Europen immigrants. The Jewish Community Center held its first meeting in 1907, taking up residence briefly in the Northside area of Birmingham, which had become the first Jewish neighborhood. Also, in 1907, Temple Beth-El, a second Orthodox congregation, was chartered. In 1944, Temple Beth-El became a part of the Conservative movement.
In response to the growing threat of Hitler’s Germany in the 1930’s, Birmingham developed the United Jewish Fund to assist threatened communities in Europe and Russia. In 1970, The Birmingham Jewish Federation was born. Its mission evolved as it added social welfare and community relations agendas to its existing fundraising goals.
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING JEWISH? HERE YOU GO!
The Birmingham Jewish Foundation raises endowment funds which underwrite special projects and programs and help address unmet community needs. Donors make gifts to the Foundation which remains a permanent legacy. The Foundation administers the endowments for The Birmingham Jewish Federation, the Levite Jewish Community Center, the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School and Collat Jewish Family Services and others. An individualized plan can be devised to meet the donor’s philanthropic desires and financial planning needs while also benefiting the community.
Collat Jewish Family Services is a family social service agency offering comprehensive social services to people of all ages. Services include: information and referrals, individual, family and group counseling, senior adult services, Buz-a-Bus transportation for anyone over 60 or disabled assistance to those in need, English as a second language classes, and Jewish family life education. A variety of volunteer opportunities are available for all ages.
Through the lends of Jewish identity and values, the Levite Jewish Community Center provides a welcoming, family-oriented gathering place for a diverse membership to engage in meaningful experiences of the mind, body and soul. Impacting more than 130,000 members of the Birmingham community annually, the Levite Jewish Community Center is welcoming to people of all faiths, ages and backgrounds. We are a family-oriented recreational and educational facility that is open to the entire community.