Congregation Herzl / Congregation Ner Tamid / Herzl-Ner Tamid
In 1906, Congregation Herzl was founded as a progressive Sephardic Orthodox synagogue.
The First Building — 1909
In 1909, the cornerstone of the first synagogue building was laid at 16th Avenue and East Fir.
Its first rabbi, Rabbi Ludwig Brooks, served the community from 1895-1905.
In 1909, Congregation Herzl purchased land for the Herzl Cemetery at 156th and Dayton Avenue North.
The building was completed in 1911, in time for High Holy Day services.
In 1915, the Ladies Auxiliary was established.
In 1923, Congregation Herzl’s Talmud Torah (Hebrew school) began holding classes.
The Second Building – 1924
In 1924, the cornerstone was laid for s second building located at 20th Avenue and East Spruce Street.
The building’s completion in 1925 was celebrated with a Torah parade from the old synagogue building to the new one.
In 1929, Congregation Herzl decided to become a Conservative synagogue
Rabbi Baruch Shapiro resigned and his Orthodox congregants founded Congregation Machzikay Hadath, which later merged with Congregation Bikur Cholim.
In 1930, Congregation Herzl began to include mixed seating at services.
In 1930-31, New Conservative Congregation was established. Then, in 1932, New Conservative merged with Herzl to form the Herzl Conservative Congregation.
The first rabbi of this new entity was Rabbi Philip Langh. The first Cantor was Sebastian Burnetti.
From 1933-1940, Rabbi Langh sponsored a lecture series.
In 1933, Rabbi Langh started a Sunday school in the Talmud Torah at 25th Avenue and East Columbia Street.
The school was run jointly by the rabbis of Congregation Herzl and Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath.
1936 brought financial distress and Congregation Herzl nearly lost their building and cemetery. They were rescued in part by the Rosenbaum family, who, in 1937, built a new memorial park chapel in the cemetery, designed by architect Ben Priteca and named for Fani Rosenbaum, who died in 1910 and was one of the first people buried in the Herzl Cemetery.
An additional $3,000 raised in 1937, saved Congregation Herzl from financial ruin.
1940 brought the Jewish Federation and the Boeing Company to Seattle. Many congregants were (and continue to be) active the success of these organizations.
During World War II, more than 275 congregants of Congregation Herzl served in the armed forces.
They also helped Holocaust survivors and German refugees, who, because of local curfew laws, needed special Shabbat evening services.
In 1942, the Herzl-Gram newsletter was first published.
The Sisterhood established a Red Cross unit and 40 women enrolled in the first aid course.
In 1948, the Seattle Institute for Adult Jewish Studies was founded.
In 1949, Seattle’s first Jewish nursery school and 3-day-a-week Hebrew school was established.
In 1950, Congregation Herzl started a children’s choir.
In 1955, the Herzl basketball team won the Church League championship.
In 1969, the second synagogue building (at Spruce and 20th) was sold.
Additional Properties – 1959
In 1959, Congregation Herzl purchased two buildings in Bellevue at 9306 and 9824 First Street, called the Maydenbauer Park Property.
In 1963, Congregation Herzl purchased a plot of land at the southwest corner of N.E. 20th and Bellevue Way. They also rented space for their Bellevue school at the First Congregational Church (708 108th Ave N.E.).
In 1965, Congregation Ner Tamid was established as a Conservative synagogue and in 1966, they bought a building at 15655 Lake Hills Boulevard in Bellevue.
During the late 1960s, Congregation Herzl and Congregation Ner Tamid began the merger process, which was completed in 1970.
The new congregation became Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation.
Herzl sold the Maydenbauer Park Property and purchased a house for their rabbi in the Seattle Mount Baker district as well as a plot of land in the Seward Park district at 58th Avenue South and Lake Washington Blvd. South. This building was sold in 1968 due to lack of parking spaces.
In 1968, Beth Shalom Conservative Congregation was founded by a group of Herzl members.
The Bellevue property was sold in 1978 to help pay for the Mercer Island synagogue construction projects.
The Third Building — 1968
In 1968, they sold the rabbi’s house/parsonage and purchased land on Mercer Island, where Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation currently is located at 3700 E Mercer Way.
The synagogue building was designed by architect James Chiarelli and completed in 1971. The Ark and Ner Tamid were designed by Phillip Levine. Between 1988 and 1990, the synagogue was renovated by architect Norman Sandler and decorator Elisabeth Beers.
In 1974, a rabbi’s home/parsonage was purchased on Mercer Island at 4139 96th Avenue S.E. Also, Cantor and Ruth Frankel celebrated their 25th anniversary by dedicating the Frankel Library, which remains a part of the community to this day.
In 1996, Rabbi Lisa Gelber became the first woman rabbi of Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation.
The 100th Year
2006 marked Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation’s 100th year. The community celebrated by burying a time capsule to be unearthed at the bicentennial celebration in 2106.
For more information see the following issues of Western States Jewish History
- Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation of Seattle: The Beginning Years, Part 1; Buttnick, Meta; 25/3Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation of Seattle: The Beginning Years, Part 2; Buttnick, Meta; 25/4
Notice: We need pictures of the various buildings that make up the history of Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation of Seattle. Can anyone help?
Samantha Silver is our Curator for this Chevra Bikur Cholim Virtual Exhibit.