About KI

Knesseth Israel Congregation (KI) is the only Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the state of Alabama, and the first Orthodox congregation to organize in Birmingham in 1889.

After incorporating in 1889, the first building for the congregation was constructed in 1903 on the southwest corner of 17th Street North and 7th Avenue North, Birmingham at the heart of what was then a Jewish neighborhood populated by immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe.

In 1955 the congregation moved to a then-remote site at 3225 Montevallo Road in what is now Mountain Brook. A pillar erected in the yard of the synagogue on Montevallo Road (which was considered incomplete, with further plans for a 1200-1500 seat sanctuary) was intended to serve as the cornerstone of a more permanent building. A second phase, adding a social and recreational wing, was undertaken in 1969.

In May, 1984 then Rabbi Harry (Tzvi) Rosen (who went on to edit Kashrus Kurrents for the Star-K) discovered that one of the torahs had been stolen from the synagogue. While talking with local police about the theft, he received a phone call asking for ransom money to return the torah scroll, at which point the police called in the FBI. While the investigation was ongoing, early the following month the Rabbi received another phone call indicating that the missing torah had been found in a Salvation Army donation bin.

Knesseth Israel, facing deteriorating conditions in their synagogue, began moving forward with plans for a new building in 2003. The congregation voted in December 2005 to make the move and raised $5.4 million in donations. Of the nearly 100 families in Knesseth Israel at the time, many moved with the Synagogue to the Overton neighborhood straddling Mountain Brook and Cahaba Heights.

The new 18,000 square-foot brick building was completed in Fall 2007. On November 19, 2007 the congregation held a celebratory procession to the new building, carrying the congregation's six Torah scrolls. The new facility includes a sanctuary, a smaller chapel, a mikvah for ritual immersion, an outdoor permanent Sukkah structure, offices, classrooms, library, social hall, playground, and two separate kitchens for the preparation of kosher meals. It also features a 50 square foot rose style stained glass window designed and fabricated by local artist Andrea Lucas. Across the street a new house was also built for the KI rabbi. The main building now serves as the independent Fred and Brenda Friedman Center for Jewish Life, which hosts events and programs for several Jewish organizations, while also providing a permanent home for Knesseth Israel.

Tue, December 12 2017 24 Kislev 5778