Temple Israel


Originally known as Congregation B'nai Israel-Children of Israel, Temple Israel was formed by 36 German Jewish families in 1853 and chartered by the state of Tennessee on March 2, 1854.

Its first synagogue, dedicated in 1858 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism, was the first permanent Jewish house of worship in Tennessee.

Today, Temple Israel  is one of the largest Reform congregations in the United States. Its storied history is masterfully told by Judy G. Ringel in Children of Israel, a beautiful hardback book marking the congregation's 150th anniversary.   The book is available in Temple's Judaica Shop.

Temple Israel has had only 8 senior rabbis in its entire 150+ year history. Click the photos for bios.

Taken in October of 2015, this photo shows, from left to right, Rabbi Katie Bauman, Rabbi Feivel Strauss, Abbie Strauss, Rabbi Micah Greenstein, and Rabbi Bess Wohlner.
Clergy plus team!

Jacob J. Peres (1858-1860)
Temple Israel Senior Rabbi Jacob J. Peres (1858-1860)

Simon Tuska (1860-1870)
Temple Israel Senior Rabbi Simon Tuska (1860-1870)

Max Samfield (1871-1915)
Temple Israel Senior Rabbi Max Samfield (1871-1915)

William H. Fineshriber (1915-1924)
Temple Israel Senior Rabbi William Fineshriber (1915-1924)

Harry W. Ettelson (1925-1954)
Temple Israel Senior Rabbi Harry W. Ettelson (1925-1954)

James A. Wax (1954-1978)
Temple Israel Senior Rabbi James A. Wax (1954-1978)

Harry K. Danziger (1978-2000)
Temple Israel Senior Rabbi Harry K. Danziger (1978-2000)Micah D. Greenstein (2000-current)

Temple Israel Senior Rabbi Micah D. Greenstein (2000-current)

Historic Marker