Temple/Congregation Beth Israel of Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ

Temple/Congregation Beth Israel of Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ 


As early as 1906 a few Jewish pioneers living in Phoenix, Arizona gathered together for High Holy Day services in various meeting rooms.

Services were led by Harry Friedman, Wolf Lupkin, and Max and Sam Spitalny.


Rabbi Martin Zielonkaof El Pasowould travel to Phoenix to counsel the Jewish community and inspire them to organize a synagogue.


Finally, in 1920, Congregation Beth Israelwas incorporated and contributions were solicited for the erection of a synagogue by the local B’nai B’rith Lodge and National Council of Jewish Women.

Charles Steinbergwas elected President.


The Founding Fathers included: Solomon Ballsun, D. Harold Brayer, Isaac Diamond, David Goldberg, David Granow, Charles Korrick, Herman Lewkowitz, I. J. Lipsohn, Barnett E. Marks, Archie R. Miller, Isaac Rosenzweig, Sam D. Spitalny, Herbert Stein, Charles Steinberg and Samuel Wilson.

The First Building

The First Congregation Beth Israel of Phoenix, Now refurbished as the Culver-Plotkin Center.

The First Congregation Beth Israel of Phoenix, Now refurbished as the Culver-Plotkin Center.

The new congregation raised $14,000, and hired an architect to design and construct a synagogue building near Central Avenue and Culver Street. The building was completed in 1921, and an annex added in 1930.

Phoenix being an “out of the way” place, the synagogue had difficulty keeping rabbis.

In 1930, the congregation became divided over the need for kosher food. The membership was split with more traditionally observant members leaving to create their own Conservative synagogue, Beth El Congregation.

In 1935 a fire destroyed much of the synagogue, requiring much rebuilding.


Abraham Lincoln Krohn became Congregation Beth Israel’s Rabbi in 1938.

The congregation had about 100 member families.

During Rabbi Krohn’s tenure the congregation began calling itself, “Temple Beth Israel.”


The Second Building

After World War II, the congregation grew to approximately 300 families and required new facilities.

Temple Beth Israel moved to a new location at Eleventh and Flower in 1949.

That year it affiliated with the Reform Movement.

The Second Temple Beth Israel of Phoenix

The Second Temple Beth Israel of Phoenix

During 1950, a young Rabbi helped serve the congregation for a short time by the name of William M. Kramer, who would become a founder of the Western States Jewish History Association, the parent of the Jewish Museum of the American West.


By 1953, the congregation’s membership was 538 families.

Rabbi Albert Plotkin

In 1955, Rabbi Albert Plotkinjoined Temple Beth Israel.

An educational wing and museum was to its building in 1967.

Albert Plotkin would continue as the congregation’s rabbi for 40 years.


The Third Building

In 1997, the congregation moved to its current location at 10460 North 56th Street and Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale.

The membership in 2003 was approximately 1,000 families, making it the largest Jewish congregation in Arizona.

The synagogue also reverted to its original name, Congregation Beth Israel.

Congregation Beth Israel of Scottsdale, Arizona

Congregation Beth Israel of Scottsdale, Arizona

 “To me, a ‘congregation’ represents people and community while the word ‘temple’ represents a place or building. I would like us to be about the people.” — Rabbi Kahn

Visitors are invited to add to this exhibit with pictures, etc.