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Short History

In the early 1900s, a group of Hungarian Orthodox Jews, who did not feel comfortable at either of the other two Oakland synagogues, decided to establish their own community. When one of them, Abraham Bercovich died, his wife Bertha agreed to fund a building if they would name it after her late husband, and thus, in 1907, Temple Beth Abraham was officially born.

After inhabiting a few buildings in downtown Oakland, in 1929 TBA broke ground on the current building on MacArthur Blvd. The leadership decided to make it a Conservative synagogue at that time to appeal to their younger members. Unfortunately, the Great Depression soon hit and the synagogue nearly had to close its doors but a generous member paid the mortgage.

Just after World War II, Temple Beth Abraham saw explosive growth and by the late 1960s it had nearly 700 families members under Rabbi Harold Schulweis. Rabbi Schulweis was especially known for his leadership on social issues during those turbulent times, and he stayed until 1970. Unfortunately, because of the population patterns of Oakland, the synagogue shrunk significantly in the 1970s and 1980s.

Jewish families began moving back to Oakland in the late 1990s, when Cantor Richard Kaplan z”l was hired, followed by Rabbi Mark Bloom in 2001. Since then, Temple Beth Abraham has grown from about 260 households to nearly 500 and has made major renovations to the sanctuary, social hall, and preschool, and built a parking lot, the Murray Davis Courtyard, and the Baum Youth Center.

Temple Beth Abraham is known today for its vibrant, musical, ruach-filled services (we use our own traditional siddur written by Rabbi Bloom called Shirat Avraham) as well as outstanding education programs such as Bet Sefer, our after-school religious school), Gan Avraham, our preschool, and Kindergym, our weekly programs for toddlers. Well over 100 years old now, Temple Beth Abraham looks forward to the next century of Jewish life in Oakland.

Read more about our history here.