175 Years as a Congregation

150 Years of Plum Street Temple

Learn More About the Journey

History of K.K. B'nai Yeshurun - Isaac M. Wise Temple

  • 1840

    A group of German Jewish immigrants in Cincinnati, some of whom had belonged to the existing congregation, K.K. Bene Israel, meets to organize a new congregation. These Jews were unhappy with Bene Israel’s mode of worship, which was not in accordance with their German custom. Their first place of worship of the new congregation is a home on Third Street between Sycamore and Broadway.

  • 1841

    The congregation adopts a constitution on September 19, 1841. Included in the constitution is a directive that the mode of worship be in accordance with the rites, customs and usages of German Jews.

  • 1842

    The congregation is incorporated on February 28, 1842 under an act of the General Assembly of Ohio. Services during this time were conducted by a Hazan (cantor)

  • 1846

    The congregation elects its first rabbi, James K. Gutheim. Described as a man of "genuinely liberal tendencies," he tries to introduce to the congregation such reforms as a choir in worship services.

  • 1848

    The Lodge Street Synagogue is dedicated on September 22, 1848.

  • 1849

    The congregation's religious school, the Talmud Yeladim Institute, is founded in the winter of 1849. Due to a cholera outbreak, the school is not opened until September 13, 1849.

  • 1853

    The congregation votes to engage Rabbi Isaac M. Wise as its spiritual leader, thus permanently altering the congregation's course of history and that of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Wise and his family arrive in Cincinnati soon thereafter.

  • 1854

    Rabbi Wise begins the publication of The American Israelite. He, also, begins instituting reforms in the synagogue, such as the successful introduction of a choir (which initially he conducted with his violin).

  • 1855

    Rabbi Wise argues for the use of an organ in synagogue. Various other reforms during the next few years included the abrogation of second day observance of holidays, with the exception of Rosh Hashanah (1859), and the permission to pray without a head covering (1873).

  • 1858

    The congregation, with a membership of two hundred and twenty, is reported to be the second largest congregation in the United States.

Scroll To Top

Plum Street Temple History

Tour of Plum Street Temple: Samantha Berinsky, Membership/Program Director, 513-793-2556 or sberinsky@wisetemple.org