Our History & Architecture
Beth Am Israel was founded in 1924 in Southwest Philadelphia, when this area held a vibrant Jewish community. Our congregation was located at 58th Street and Warrington Avenue. Gradually over the years, people in the community started moving to the Main Line, and in 1973 Beth Am Israel moved too. Today, Beth Am Israel remains a vibrant community full of talented, giving, and warm members.
Nature Infused Architecture
Our award-winning building design reflects our philosophy. Our sanctuary sits at the heart of our space, with classrooms surrounding it — conveying our belief that intergenerational worship and learning are inseparable parts of Jewish experience. As they pass to and from Beit Midrash class, children become comfortable with the Shabbat service in the sanctuary and also participate in the service more naturally. And with our Shabbat-centered approach to learning, they also see their parents there. Adults in the sanctuary, conversely, experience the joy of watching the next generation of Jewish children grow to become Jewish adults. Our building’s architecture also connects us to the beauty of the world around us. Large windows let in light and views of nature and help us contemplate the wonder of the universe. Take a look at our design award (Religious Art & Architecture Design Award, Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art & Architecture and Faith & Form Magazine, 2005), but more importantly: come visit us in real life! We will gladly welcome you and invite you to a meal.
“We wanted a building that would meet our functional needs and more. In character with our community: warm, welcoming, modest, responsible and solid. Basic materials, used well, beautifully composed. A building that made distinctions between sacred space and space for other uses, as we distinguish between Shabbat and the rest of the week, bein kodesh l’chol. A building that would inspire, evoke and teach. A work of Architecture. A work of Art.”
–Bill Becker, Design Team Leader Building Project Chair Past President