B’nai Israel Temple

This profile was last updated in 2006

Activities and Schedule

– Wednesday: Hebrew School 4:30-6:00 P.M.
– Friday: Worship 7:30 P.M.

– Saturday: Worship 9:30 A.M.
– Sunday: Sunday School 10:00 -12:00 A.M.; Choir 11:00 A.M.

The temple engages in a variety of activities. For example, “Tot Shabbat” is a special service in which children learn about the meanings behind Jewish services and rituals in a kid-friendly way. In “Young Judea,” fourth through seventh graders spend Sunday afternoons devoted to community service projects. The temple also has a men’s softball team that plays other men’s teams from local churches. The construction of a new sports pavilion at the temple has created opportunities for the community’s athletic programs to expand.

History

The first temple was built in 1912 at the intersection of Dean St. and Union St. in Spartanburg, SC. The current temple on Heywood Avenue was constructed in 1967 when the community population outgrew the first temple. The temple is comprised of two main buildings: the sanctuary, featuring a social hall, and the educational building. The educational building houses the Sunday School and Hebrew School classes as well as administrative offices. The temple just completed a half a million-dollar expansion. A new pavilion and administrative offices were built.

The B’nai Israel community worships with a historically important Torah housed in the Ark of the temple. Every Sabbath, the community reads from the Zbraslav Torah, a nineteenth century scroll recovered from the Nazis after World War II. After being stolen from a European synagogue during the war, the Zbraslav Torah became part of a Nazi collection of Jewish folk and religious art. It was intended for display in a museum of “relics from the extinct Jewish race.” When the war ended and the scroll was recovered, it was moved to the Prague Museum for almost twenty years. Then, in 1964, it was transferred to Westminster Synagogue in England along with 1,563 other scrolls. Of these scrolls, those in “presentable condition” were distributed to synagogues around the world. B’nai Israel was given one of these. Every Sabbath the scroll is removed from the Ark, and the weekly Torah reading is read in memory of all of those who have studied and worshipped in its presence in the past.

Food

There are receptions held after both Friday and Saturday services, with the leftovers from the Friday services being used for the Saturday one. The third edition of the temple’s cookbook, A Little Bit of This & A Little Bit of That, came out in 1996. It is comprised of recipes contributed by members of the temple and is used to raise money. There is also a bake sale held on the first Thursday of November that is also used as a fundraiser for the temple.

Research by:

Carolyn Bone and Elizabeth Shirk 12/13/2002