Here is a Timeline of significant events in the history of Congregation Beth Jehudah. Thanks to Mr. Gerry Glazer for this compilation of milestones for our timeline.
The History of Beth Jehudah
Rabbi Michel Twerski The following historical account was taken from the Congregation Beth Jehudah Annual Banquet “Ad book” of 1975 – Honoring Rabbi Michel Twerski on his 13th year of service to the Milwaukee Jewish Community:
Rabbi Jacob Twerski ZT”L Officially Congregation Beth Jehudah was founded in mid-1939 when Rabbi Jacob Twerski of blessed memory, converted the downstairs section of his home at 2234 North 11th Street into a Beis Medrash, and opened it for daily services.
More realistically, the Congregation began with the coming of the venerable senior Rabbi to Milwaukee in 1927, when he was engaged as the spiritual leader of Congregation Anshe Sfard, a pulpit which he served for twelve years. Rabbi Jacob Twerski, then a young man, immediately asserted the unusual presence of mind and personality, the profound grasp of reality, and the commanding warmth which drew Milwaukee Jewry to him as his communal flock.
As his reputation and following grew, Beth Jehudah was born, not in mortar and bricks but in the rare personage of the sage Rabbi himself. When, in 1939, the Rabbi decided to launch Beth Jehudah the community rose to support and welcome with enthusiasm this new addition to Milwaukee’s Jewish landscape. Although small and restricted in space, Congregation Beth Jehudah rapidly became a center of Jewish activity, serving the thousands of local Jews, in functions ranging from observing family Simchas and the celebration of holidays such as Simchas Torah, to the seeking of the Rabbi’s wise counsel and guidance.
When, in the late 40’s, the old North Side Jewish neighborhood began its exodus to Milwaukee’s West Side, the Congregation purchased land on the current 54th Street site and commenced its building campaign. Once again the community opened its heart to Rabbi Twerski, and in the fall of 1950 the present facility was completed. Since its move, and the substantially larger quarters available, the Congregation has grown in every conceivable way. Critical to this growth were the generous individuals who gave of themselves in many leadership capacities. Prominent in this group are those who occupied the President’s chair:
Messrs Phil Levin, Jack Hirschbein, Frank Grossman, Sam Bass, Harry Hack and the current President Julius Ertel.
Rabbi Michel Twerski, this evening’s “guest of honor” came to Milwaukee in 1961 to assist his father, in the Congregation’s Rabbinate. All the rest is current history, and needs no further comment.
This year, 5776 (2016), marks seventy seven years since Beth Jehudah was established under the leadership of the Rebbe, Rabbi Jacob Twerski of blessed memory. These seventy seven years have enriched the lives of thousands and his legacy continues to flourish under the leadership of his offspring, Rabbi Michel Twerski and his son Rabbi Benzion Twerski. For the record, our real current president is Dennis Armstrong.