Beth Sholom, the only Conservative synagogue in the Memphis area affiliated with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, is widely known as a warm and inviting place to pray and to celebrate Jewish life. Whether at Shabbat services, daily minyan, adult education events, youth and Holiday programs, or social activities, the members (and guests) of our kehillah are made to feel that they are an integral part of the Beth Sholom community.
Since 1955, Beth Sholom has provided religious, educational, and ethical guidance to three generations of Memphians. Our synagogue is known for its inclusive, egalitarian services and its cozy and friendly atmosphere. Our congregation is led by the thought-provoking spiritual leadership of Rabbi Ilan Glazer.
It took a group of dedicated men and women with tremendous vision and courage to make the dream of a Conservative Synagogue in Memphis, TN a reality. The first step in this process was reaching out to others who might have the same vision. This was accomplished with an appeal to the Memphis community which led to an historical meeting on December 16, 1954 at the home of Mr. & Mrs. M. Starr at 255 Hawthorne Street. At that meeting a group of 37 devoted men and women unanimously voted Beth Sholom into existence and elected Herman Appleson chairman. On January 4, 1955, the State of Tennessee issued a Charter of Incorporation for Beth Sholom Synagogue. One week later, this new congregation held its first Friday evening Shabbat Service and Oneg Shabbat in the B’nai Brith Home Chapel.During the next year, the founders of Beth Sholom Synagogue forged ahead, and, without a permanent home, managed to make great strides and incredible achievements:
The first High Holiday Services at the Memphis Little Theater
A children’s Passover Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center
The formation of a vibrant and energetic Sisterhood, led by Jeannette Katz
The first installation of officers at the Hotel Claridge, led by Herman Appleson
The appointment of our first spiritual leader, Rabbi M. Herbert Berger
The first Bar Mitzvah of Gordon Yukon at the Memphis Little Theater
The beginning of Hebrew Sunday School Classes at the Highland Nursery on Walker
It would be a full year and half before Beth Sholom Congregation would have a home to call its own. On May 8, 1956, 482 S. Mendenhall became our first permanent residence. Situated on 5.4 acres of wooded land in East Memphis with a two story building, the site was purchased for $67,500. During that same year, Rabbi Berger departed Memphis to take the pulpit in another city and in August 1956, Rabbi Meyer Passow became Beth Sholom’s new spiritual leader. Rabbi Passow led the synagogue to the formation of a daily minyan, which to this day remains intact and vital to our congregation. In 1959, Rabbi Passow and his family departed Memphis to make Aliyah in Israel, once again leaving the synagogue with an empty pulpit. To everyone’s excitement, Rabbi Arie Becker arrived on August 1959 to lead our congregation. Beth Sholom was growing and Rabbi Becker proved to be the spiritual leader to take the congregation into the next decade. By September 1961 a modern ten-room Religious School building was completed and ready to accommodate our growing number of students for the fall term. Soon after the completion of this Education Building, the membership began taking steps towards the construction of a new facility that would include a sanctuary, social hall, kosher kitchen, and administrative offices. By late 1962 the process of raising funds and designing this project was begun, and in 1965, with building plans in the works, Beth Sholom acquired a five acre tract of land within the Eastlawn Cemetery Grounds. On September 18, 1966, this land was consecrated as the Beth Sholom Memorial Gardens, and the completion of our new spiritual home occurred with its dedication on March 5, 1967.At this point, Beth Sholom stood strong to move forward. With a new building and religious school, its own cemetery, and the leadership of its beloved Rabbi Arie Becker, Beth Sholom stood tall within the Memphis Jewish Community. It had taken 13 years, the age of Bar Mitzvah, to reach this point of adulthood, and Beth Sholom was poised to grow and thrive as Memphis’s only Conservative Congregation. We invite you to join us as we continue the traditions of our mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. L’dor v’dor… From Generation to Generation.
Beth Sholom Synagogue is committed to be the vibrant, spiritual home of Conservative Judaism in the Mid-South, where we nurture, transmit, and celebrate our rich heritage and values.