Temple Israel, South Florida’s first reform synagogue was founded in 1922 in answer to a need for less structured, less traditional services than were available at that time in Miami. The temple’s first home was on what is now Biscayne Boulevard and N.E. 13th Street.
Within five years, with 216 member families, the congregation boasted not only a new building, but their own Rabbi. Rabbi Jacob H. Kaplan joined the temple, in 1927, at its current location (N.E. 19th Street), just a block and a half west of stylish Biscayne Boulevard. Rabbi Kaplan remained with the temple, in various capacities, until his death in 1965. His Temple Israel Scrapbooks are accessible online. Colman Zwitman became the temple’s rabbi in 1936, serving until his untimely death from World War II related injuries in 1949. The synagogue’s continued growth justified the building of a religious school (named after Rabbi Zwitman), social hall in 1954 and assorted office and classroom space by 1960.
Unlike most synagogues in South Florida, we have a long history. We were founded in 1922, and have been in the same location since 1928. In some respects, the history of Temple Israel is the history of Miami.
For more than 90 years, Temple Israel has been a Jewish beacon in the central city of Miami. It has had a unique role in South Florida—maverick, intelligent, progressive.
Temple Israel served the needs of Jews throughout the twentieth century, and continues to do so in the twenty-first century.