First gathering on 1 April 1930, the founders of TBI finally settled on the name Temple Beth Israel in 1937, the same year in which the building’s foundation stone was laid.
TBI’s first Senior Rabbi, Dr Herman Sanger, who arrived from Berlin in August 1936, revolutionised Judaism in Australia by establishing a home for German and Austrian Jewish refugees fleeing Europe in the pre- and post-War periods.
In 1938 Dr Herman Schildberger arrived and assumed the musical direction of TBI, introducing to the congregation the majestic music of Lewandowski.
In the 1950s TBI seeded new synagogues in Kew and Bentleigh, The King David School was founded in the mid-1970s, and in the early 1980s the first Israeli shaliach was brought to Melbourne to work with the newly-formed Progressive Zionist youth movement Netzer.
In more recent years, TBI has provided direction to the Jewish community of Victoria and Australia in a number of areas, including the introduction of bat mitzvah and baby naming ceremonies for girls, interfaith work with both the Christian and Muslim communities, active support for social justice issues such as Aboriginal reconciliation and refugee welfare, multicultural forums and synagogue open-house events, adult learning opportunities, community pastoral care programming, and social networking.
With its guiding vision to “meet tradition with innovation”, TBI also has a proud history of creating dynamic and imaginative ways to celebrate the Jewish festivals, appealing in particular to young families.