Jews, wherever they live, try to organize a Minyan, that gathers in a home for prayer service. This was probably true in the early development of the Jewish community in Dayton as well. However, on that auspicious day in August 1887, the early Jewish settlers of Dayton met in the home of Ayrs Tahl and the decision was reached to purchase a building for a Synagogue. Thus, the first Synagogue to conduct public services was established in a building on Fifth Street and Wayne Avenue. This was the beginning of the Beth Jacob Congregation with Arys Tahl, its first president.
Shortly after, their organization, this group of pioneers engaged the services of Rabbi Mendel Finkelstein as their spiritual leader. Under his leadership, the congregation moved to new spacious quarters. This was the orthodox Synagogue on Wyoming Street built in 1893.
In the early 1900s the membership was doubled with the influx of additional young families. In 1903, the Synagogue was remodeled to accommodate its substantial growth.
In 1918, a victory celebration was held in the Synagogue to mark the end of World War I and the return of our veterans. It was the same year that saw Mr. Louis Slavin, president of the congregation free it from a burdensome mortgage. The celebration appropriately took place on the eve of Simchat Torah.
With the ensuing years, more young people joined the congregation. With this added growth and stimulus; it soon became necessary to seek larger quarters. In 1939, the Board of Directors, with Mr. Oscar Blum as president, purchased the ground on 1350 Kumler Avenue for the building of a new synagogue. It was completed in 1944. The first spiritual leader in this beautiful synagogue, was Rabbi Benjamin Lapidus.
In 1955, Rabbi Samuel Fox became the spiritual leader of Beth Jacob Congregation. Under his initiative and leadership, youth activities were started, Junior Congregation services were inaugurated, and a Religious School with an intensive curriculum, was instituted.
With changing neighborhoods, it soon became apparent that the Synagogue would have to safeguard its future by planning another move. In 1975, a young board of directors under the leadership of Mr. Hyman F. Blum as president, undertook the challenging task of building a new synagogue. It gradually came to fulfillment with a generous donation of land by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Singer, a magnanimous commitment by Mr. and Mrs. William Slavin, and the devotion of our officers, board and general membership. On May 22, 1977, construction was started on our present site, at 7020 N. Main Street. Although not completely finished, services were held for the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur of 1978. The official dedication took place May 4, 1980.
In 1994, we were fortunate to have Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox, who is a native of Dayton, assume the spiritual leadership of our congregation. Under his devoted leadership, the congregation is bustling with Jewish educational opportunities that serve the needs of both young and old alike. He has been instrumental in building up the community physically as well as spiritually, having recently organized the construction of our safety walkway along North Main Street; liaising with city officials concerning Beth Jacob's role in the new Ritualarium Society (Mikvah), a project headed up by his wife, Chana; and championing building improvements such as the new chandeliers in the Slavin auditorium, and the new Sahn Memorial Library at Beth Jacob. In March of 1995, Barry Serotikin, who has held the position of board member, secretary, treasurer and president, was hired for the position of Executive Director until his retirement in 2012. Chaya Vidal served as his successor as Executive Director for one year.
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