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Congregation Beth Israel announces annniversary celebration plans

City News Service

Congregation Beth Israel today released details of a celebration for its 150th year, which begins in September.

What’s billed as the oldest Jewish congregation in Southern California was founded in 1861 in what is now Old Town by a small group of pioneers when San Diego was still a frontier town. The organization now has a modern campus in La Jolla.

Events will begin Sept. 15 when the congregational board meets in the original synagogue building, which was erected in 1889.

The calendar includes a monthly speakers series, a new scroll from Torah scribe Julie Seltzer and an appearance by actor Mandy Patinkin.

“Those pioneers in 1861 set the stage for a thriving Jewish community in San Diego,’' Senior Rabbi Michael Berk said. They could not have imagined how many lives their efforts would eventually touch.’'

The commemoration will include a major fundraising campaign for the congregation, which has 1,200 member families.