Who We Are
B’nai Israel Congregation, in Norfolk, VA, has historically aimed to serve as “The Orthodox Synagogue For All Jews In Hampton Roads.”
Our congregational leader, Rabbi Sender Haber, and several other congregants lead a variety of classes during the week and on Shabbos. There’s almost always something to do, something to learn, and an opportunity to touch base with fellow Jews. If you travel in our area, stop in for our daily minyanim–check the latest Newsletter for the times–and call to arrange hospitality should you be planning to stay in the area over Shabbos.
Our local community is, thank G-d, blessed with day schools, a Yeshiva, and a high school for young women. We also welcomed the opening of a pizza shop this year. We are well-supplied with kosher food by a number of local vendors. A list of these may be found at the local Vaad HaKashrus‘s website.
A Brief History of Our Congregation
B’nai Israel Congregation has a rich history in the city of Norfolk. As the namesake of the oldest and largest Orthodox congregation in the Tidewater area, we have history and customs that remain from the merger of several synagogues: The Twentieth Street synagogue and K’hal Chasidim, from downtown Norfolk, united to become the United Orthodox Synagogue in 1946. Our present sanctuary was established at that time.
Outreach has always been a trademark of B’nai Israel. In its early stages, the congregation focused on outreach to the young, American-born generation and obtained an English-speaking Rabbi. Years later, the synagogue merged with B’nai Israel Congregation of downtown Norfolk; the B’nai Israel name was assumed in the 1950s.
The present synagogue building was redesigned in 2000, merging the old-country ta’am of the original main sanctuary with the modern-age kitchens, classrooms and Minyan Room.
The synagogue was and remains to an extent unique, in that it opens its doors to all Jewish worshippers, whether or not they can afford membership.
The congregation’s focus is to provide an outlet for traditional Judaism in the Tidewater area for Jews of all ages.