Beth Israel Congregation was founded in 1916, and follows the Conservative branch of Judaism. The main synagogue is located at 2000 Washtenaw Avenue, at the Austin Street intersection. Services are held on Friday evenings, Saturday mornings, Monday - Thursday at 7:30, and Sundays at 5:00 or 7:30, depening on time of year. There are many programs and activities offered, such as discussion groups, picnics, weekend retreats, and other trips and activities. Beth Israel also has a religious school, for kids from kindergarten to eighth grade, with opportunities for assistant teaching for high schoolers. It meets up to three times weekly.
The congregation began informally by celebrating the Jewish High Holidays in the home of furrier Osias Zwerdling. For the next 40 years Mr. Zwerdling served as President of the congregation.Over the course of that time, Beth Israel functioned as the sole Jewish congregation in Ann Arbor, serving a diverse congregation in a traditional fashion. The congregation, like many in smaller towns, continued without a Rabbi, hiring various functionaries who wore several hats at the same time: very often that of the Hebrew teacher, the schochet (kosher slaughterer), and the cantor. The first employee, Rabbi Pincus Gropstein was paid a salary of $18 (Chai) per week to serve the 30 families of the congregation.