Temple Beth Israel

Congregation Beth Israel of Houston, the oldest Jewish congregation in Texas, was founded in Houston in 1854.


The congregation was founded in 1854 as an Orthodox Jewish kehilla and legally chartered in 1859. In 1874 the congregation voted to change their affiliation to Reform Judaism, sparking the foundation of Congregation Adath Yeshurun, now known as Congregation Beth Yeshurun.Hyman Judah Schachtel was a past rabbi.

Beth Israel's Franklin Avenue Temple building was completed in 1874. The temple was at Crawford Street at Franklin Street in what is now Downtown Houston. In 1908 the congregation moved into a new temple at Crawford at Lamar Street, in an area that was a Jewish community; as of 2011 The Grove at Discovery Green occupies the Downtown Houston site.

A new temple at Austin Street and Holman Avenue was dedicated in 1925. Originally it was considered to be a part of the Third Ward.

The Moderne style, 1924-built Austin Street building, designed by congregant Joseph Finger, was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and was awarded Recorded Texas Historical Landmark in 2009.

In the years leading to 1967, the Jewish community was moving to Meyerland. To follow the community, in 1967 the congregation moved to a new temple on North Braeswood. The temple on Austin Street became the first home of Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and was renamed the Ruth Denney Theatre. When the high school moved to new quarters, the building became a performance venue for Houston Community College's Central Fine Arts division and was renamed the Heinen Theatre. The historic building is currently located in Midtown Houston.

Building Activity

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