Beth Jacob Synagogue was founded in 1929 by a group of 29 families, mostly first and second generation Americans. Their religious convictions were deep enough for them to be concerned about providing a traditional Jewish education for their children, but they wanted a form of Judaism which allowed them to better integrate their secular and religious lives/ The philosophy of the Conservative movement provided the answers these founders sought.
The first High Holiday services were led by student rabbis in the borrowed Community House of the United Congregational Church. Weekly Shabbat services were soon initatied at the B’nai B’rith clubrooms on Shetucket Street. By 1931, a rabbi had been hired, a religious school established, and the Community House on Church Street purchased as the first permanent home of the synagogue. The synagogue was renamed Beth Jacob in honor of Jacob Slosberg. During these early years, one of the most Jewisly-active young people in the congregation was Marshall Meyer. He was eventually ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, established Conservative Judaism and a Rabbinical Seminary in Argentina, and re-vitalized Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City before his untimely death.
Beth Jacob extended full and equal religious rights to women in 1975. Shortly thereafter, Beth Jacob’s leaders sought a means to relocate the synagogue, because of the deteriorating physical plant and environment on Church Street. Groundbreaking for the new synagogue building took place on October 8, 1978, and the building was dedicated in 1979.
In June 2009, Beth Jacob celebrated its 80th anniversary with a gala celebration with keynote speaker Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Senator Christopher Dodd also gave remarks.
Many of our students also attend the Solomon Schechter Academy in New London. High School students attend the Jewish Community High School under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Ct.
Beth Jacob is affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism