A Brief History of Jewish Dayton
Dayton’s first Jewish settlers arrived in 1842. In 1850, the first Jewish house of worship was established in Dayton. The congregation eventually adopted the Reform ritual and evolved into Temple Israel.
In 1887, 19 Orthodox Jewish settlers built Beth Jacob Congregation. Beth Abraham Synagogue was founded a few years later in 1894. In 1943, it merged with a second non-Reform congregation, the Dayton View Synagogue. Temple Beth Or, the newest synagogue in our community, started operations in Washington Township in 1984.
In addition to establishing religious institutions, the Dayton Jewish community has developed social and philanthropic organizations to meet the needs of Jews in our region and around the world. The first group, organized in 1910, named six health and welfare agencies as its beneficiaries.
Today, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton is the central organization established to further the welfare of the Jewish community. The Federation coordinates social, welfare and cultural programs; fosters cooperation among Jewish organizations; facilitates fund-raising activities on the local and national level; and stimulates participation and interest in community-wide activities.
With a population of approximately 4,500 individuals, the Jewish community of Dayton is thriving. Among the community’s amenities is the Boonshoft Center for Jewish Culture and Education in Centerville. The Jewish Federation’s offices in the Soin Building in downtown Dayton are home to the Jewish Community Relations Council, The Dayton Jewish Observer, Jewish Senior Service Agency, Social Service Department, United Jewish Campaign, Women’s Division, Federation’s Archives and the Dayton Jewish Federation Foundation.
Collaborative holiday celebrations, shared education programs, Hillel Academy Jewish day school, and two new, state-of-the art mikvehs make Dayton a model for Jewish communities around the country.