150 Boise Icons: Ahavath Beth Israel Synagogue

awebb@idahostatesman.comFebruary 15, 2013 

Did you know? The synagogue is the oldest in continuous use west of the Rockies. It weighs 60 tons. The task of moving it took six hours.

IDAHO STATESMAN FILE

Pioneers built the Moorish-style synagogue in 1895. Its builders included Moses Alexander. He became the mayor of Boise and the governor of Idaho, the first Jewish governor in the U.S.

The synagogue moved from its original site at 11th and State streets to the Boise Bench in a dramatic, middle-of-the-night trip in 2003.

In the early 1900s, the synagogue, then known as Beth Israel, served as a haven for disenfranchised groups. Congregation member Sherrill Livingston said that when the first Latter-day Saints arrived in Boise, only the Jewish community opened its doors to them. Mormons used the synagogue for prayer.

Today's Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel is the result of two synagogues merging. After World War II, Jews in the military arrived at Gowen Field and Mountain Home Air Force Base. They built Ahavath Israel, a more conservative synagogue, at 27th and Bannock.

The congregations came together in 1986.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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