Sign In Forgot Password

Our History


Temple B'nai Israel is one of the oldest congregations in Pinellas County, dating back to 1949. Our history began after World War II when a surge of Jewish families began moving into Pinellas County. 

In 1956, Rabbi Harry R. Richmond came out of retirement for a four year period to be our first rabbi. He was an extraordinary person and, among other interesting facts, was the only Jewish chaplain to serve in both World War I and World War II. Rabbi J. Marshall Taxay served as our Rabbi from 1960 until he retired in 1969. 

Rabbi Arthur I. Baseman served as our Rabbi from 1969 until 2008. During this time, Arthur and Charlie Rutenberg gave the beautiful piece of land on South Belcher Road to the congregation, and the entire congregation from South Betty Lane worked together to build and grow our beautiful Temple in its new location. 

Rabbi Daniel Treiser joined our Temple family on July 1, 2008. We lost him to illness in August 2018. During his time with TBI, Rabbi Treiser was instrumental in overseeing multiple congregational trips to Israel and brought a renewed spiritual experience. 

During Rabbi Treiser's tenure, we also created a successful capital campaign to upgrade our temple sanctuary.  Work began in early 2015 and was finished just before the start of the High Holidays that year.  

After Rabbi Treiser's passing, we were served by interim rabbi, Rabbi David Novak, who came to us in November 2018. He brought with him a dedication to Jewish life, a warm personality, and the ability to help our congregation both remember Rabbi Treiser and move us forward. 

From 2019 through 2024 we were served by Rabbi Joshua Lobel. He helped to steer the congregation and community through the COVID-19 Pandemic, creating fun and exciting programming through Zoom. He was also instrumental in expanding our interfaith connections.

Today we are served by Rabbi Michael Birnholz, who joined us on July 1, 2024. He enthusiastically shares his ruach and koach - spirit and strength - with the many diverse generations and facets of the Jewish community.

Temple B'nai Israel has always been a congregation of people dedicated to the improvement of the lives of others as a means of honoring God. During the last 75 years, we have continued to grow and provide for the needs of the Jewish community of Clearwater and Pinellas County. 

Ours is a vital, warm, committed, and caring membership that creates a deep sense of community in all that we do. The members of TBI take pride in the fact that our programming and services remain vibrant and relevant after 70+ years of serving the Jewish community. New families in the community as well as existing families join together as an active part of this wonderful extended family. 

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784