History or comments
The oldest Jewish sanctuary in continuous use in Florida.
The Temple Israel of Greater Miami congregation was founded in 1922 and within five years it had 216 member families. In 1928 the current Moorish – Neo Gothic building was completed. The historic main sanctuary, whose groundbreaking was in 1927, is the oldest sanctuary in continuous use in Florida. Described as a Moorish-Gothic confection of stained glass and tropical tile – in the style popular in Miami in the 1920s. Designed by architects Robertson & Patterson, the sanctuary is on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the tenure of Rabbi Joseph Narot, from 1950 to 1980, Temple Israel grew to become one of America’s largest synagogues, with approximately 1,800 families, so large in fact that High Holy Day services were held off campus in the Miami Beach Convention Center.
As the population of Miami began to shift in the post-World War II years, the leadership of Temple Israel considered moving to the suburbs, but in a brave move, rejected that alternative. The decision to remain in the city, according to the published history of the temple, “means significant contribution to the revitalization of the downtown area, but it runs contrary to the nationwide flight of people and religious institutions from metropolitan areas to the suburbs.” By 2015 there are less than 400 member families.