Today is February 20, 2020 -
Jews have always been important to the Reno area. There were Jewish merchants in Washoe City as early as 1861. Several residents moved to the Truckee Meadows in the spring of 1868 to help establish the new community of Reno.
One of the first Jewish organizations was the “Reno Hebrew Benevolent Society” established in 1879. The Society’s purpose was to secure a piece of land for a cemetery, assist sick members and, in case of death, provide for a decent internment. The initial membership fee was $2.50 with a monthly membership payment of fifty cents.
As our Jewish community grew, so did the spiritual needs of Reno’s Jews. On June 17, 1917, Jewish community leaders met and formed a committee to raise funds for the construction of Reno’s first Synagogue. That same year a lot on West Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets was purchased. Fund raising efforts began, banquets were held, and donations were received from a wide range of participants, including Jews, non-Jews, local banks and the local Baptist Church.
Work began on the foundation in 1921 and dedication ceremonies were held in 1922. Reno’s first temple continued to serve our community well until the early 1970’s when increased membership, downtown parking problems and traffic congestion required that the congregation look for a new location on which to build a new temple.
Upon the sale of the temple on West Street, a parcel of property was purchased at the corner of Lakeside and Manzanita Lane and plans were made for construction of a new and larger temple. A ground breaking ceremony was held on February 6, 1972 and a dedication ceremony took place in March of 1973.
With the additional increase of membership through the years and the need for more educational facilities, an addition consisting of six classrooms, an office and a Chapel was completed and dedicated in February 1981.
In 1988, the Dr. Emanuel Berger Judaica Library was built and dedicated. It serves as a resource on Jewish history, religion and thought and is open to the entire community.
The conservative Jewish community of Reno can be proud of their accomplishments over the past 130 years.