There has been a Jewish presence in the Fox River Valley dating all the way back to the 1800’s. The first families were farmers, merchants and tradesmen. Many of these Jewish settlers helped supervise the production of uniforms in the Chicago garment district for Civil War volunteers, even though it was more than a full day’s ride from Elgin. Although there was no synagogue established at this time, much planning and discussion was taking place.
In 1892, a small group of Jewish residents organized the first Illinois synagogue west of Chicago. The congregation worshipped on the second floor of a building in Elgin, and called themselves Congregation Tifereth Israel. The name changed to Congregation Kneseth Israel (CKI) when they merged with another local developing group. Although they purchased land at the corner of Franklin and Center streets, no building was ever built at that location.
Years later, an existing building was purchased at 77 Villa Street in Elgin. This served as the home of CKI for the next 20 years. The congregation continued to grow as discussions were taking place about building a new synagogue and Jewish Community Center.
By 1948, phase one of an entirely new building was completed at 330 Division Street in Elgin, which to this day is still our current location. Ten years later, a second phase was added on.
CKI continues to meet the spiritual needs and interests of a diverse and growing Jewish population throughout the Fox River Valley area and the surrounding counties of Kane, McHenry, DuPage, DeKalb and Northwest Cook.
2012-13 marked the 120th anniversary of Congregation Kneseth Israel. Click here to see how we celebrated with the community.
History of Rabbis at CKI
1895-1908 Rabbi Locke
? - Rabbi Rosen
1929-1936 Rabbi M. Nodel
1936-1938 Rabbe Castle
1938-1942 Rabbi Sydney K. Mossman
1942-1943 Rabbi Abraham Zemach
1943-1946 Rabbi Joshua Stotland
1946-1948 Rabbi Marvin Petruck
1948-1973 Rabbi Abraham J. Rose
1973-1980 Rabbi Morris Greenfield
1981-1982 Rabbi Arthur Gould
1982-1992 Rabbi Martin Scharf
1992- 1993 Rabbi Debra A. Eisenman
1993-2004 Hazzan Alan Smolen
2004-2006 Rabbi Marcy Greene
2006-2012 Rabbi Jonathan Kohn
2012-Present Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein
Congregation Kneseth Israel l 330 Division l Elgin, Illinois l phone 847.741.5656 l fax 847.741.5924 l firstname.lastname@example.org