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Our History

Photo: Louis A. DavidsonDuring its 175 year history the congregation, its leaders, its members, and its buildings have played an important role in Jewish history, American social justice movements, and architectural history.


Established in 1847, Kehilat Anshei Ma-arav (KAM) is the oldest synagogue in Illinois. Although KAM began as an Orthodox congregation, our members began to reform their practice almost from the beginning. In 1852, conflict over issues of Reform and traditional observances led to the creation of a new congregation, B'nai Sholom. In 1874, KAM became a founding member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now known as the Union for Reform Judaism.


 Isaiah Temple was organized in 1895, with Temple Israel following in 1896. Finally, in 1906 Temple Israel merged with Congregation B'nai Sholom, and relocated to the South Side. In 1924, Isaiah Temple dedicated their brand new Hyde Park Building, and a month later merged with B'nai Sholom Temple Israel, taking the name Temple Isaiah Israel. In 1971, KAM and Temple Isaiah Israel merged, and took our current name. 

We have enjoyed strong rabbinic leadership over the decades by many rabbis, including

  • Liebman Adler
  • Isaac Moses
  • Joseph Stolz
  • Tobias Schanfarber
  • Gerson Levi
  • Solomon Freehof
  • Jacob Weinstein
  • Morton Berman
  • Hayim Perelmuter
  • Simeon Maslin
  • Arnold Jacob Wolf
  • Fred Reeves

Our History

KAM Isaiah Israel, with a 175-year legacy, has been pivotal in Jewish history, American social justice, and architectural design. Its leaders helmed the Central Conference of American Rabbis, reinforcing the congregation's influence within Reform Judaism. Committed to social equity, Rabbis Weinstein and Perelmuter rooted the congregation in Hyde Park amid societal shifts, propelling programs for food justice and refugee rights. Architecturally, KAM and Isaiah Temple's historic sanctuaries, crafted by renowned designers, are now iconic cultural sites. The congregation's current landmark home, designed by Alschuler, underscores its integral role in Chicago's heritage. The musical tradition, enriched by composer Max Janowski, contributes to its cultural impact. Balancing heritage and progress, the congregation remains a bastion of tradition and innovation in the Reform movement.

Sun, July 21 2024 15 Tammuz 5784