Celebrating 150 years of Judaism in Northeast Louisiana

Published: Mar. 21, 2019 at 10:29 AM CDT
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People are celebrating 150 years of Judaism in Northeast Louisiana.

Members of the Temple B’Nai Israel say they're proud of the growth they've made in the last 150 years, and that's why they're inviting the entire community to come out and celebrate with them.

Temple B’Nai Israel is the only Jewish temple in Northeast Louisiana, and it's been in Monroe for the last 135 years. The original building was downtown near the courthouse. It moved in the early 1960s to grow the congregation.

Temple president Alan Barth says throughout the years, members of the temple have made a big impact on the city of Monroe. That's why we now have the Saul Adler Rec Center and Bernstein Park.

Barth says this temple and the congregation are things to be proud of.

"I guess it’s diverse in a way,” he says. “Judaism has been around for a long time, long before Christianity. We just represent another section or another belief. We all believe in God but we all have our own ways."

Barth says the religion has stayed the same, but the congregation has changed a lot in the last 150 years and he’s looking forward to the future.

"A lot has changed. Some of the families have moved away. Our congregation is not as large as it used to be, but we're still here and we're the center for Judaism in Northeast Louisiana,” Barth says proudly. “There's a fairly good-sized Jewish population here."

The Jewish New Year starts in September, so the congregation has been celebrating the 150th anniversary since then. They hosted a kosher-style hotdog sale and a community Hanukkah. They’ll honor the choir leader, Janet Russell, this Friday, March 22. Russell has been serving the congregation for more than 60 years. They will also pay tribute to Doyle Jeter, who created the new art piece that proudly stands in front of the temple and shines on the building at night.

Barth is encouraging other churches, regardless of religion or denomination, to join their celebrations throughout the year.