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Shelandra Y. Ford
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Congregation B'Nai Israel (Children of Israel)

First Permanent Jewish House of Worship in Tennessee Jews have been part of Tennessee's economic, social and political life since the early 19th century. Congregation Children of Israel, chartered by the state of Tennessee on March 2, 1854, rented and eventually purchased a building near this site at Main and Exchange Streets. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism, dedicated the new synagogue on March 26, 1858. Growing rapidly, the congregation moved to larger accommodations on Poplar Avenue in 1884. It moved again to the corner of 1265 Poplar and Montgomery in 1915, and to East Massey Road in 1976. Congregation Children of Israel became known as Temple Israel in 1943. The establishment of Congregation Children of Israel in Tennessee affirmed the American principles of freedom of religion and assembly.