Synagogues  /  Temple Beth David-Ner Israel

Temple Beth David-Ner Israel at 500 Starin Avenue was a merger of two congregations from two streams of Judaism: Conservative and traditional.


The fusion of a synagogue associated with Conservative Judaism and a traditional congregation committed to orthodox practice was a new type of merger in Greater Buffalo. In 1955, Temple Beth David of Humboldt Parkway, and the former Anshe Zedek, newly Nu (Ner) Israel at 85 Saranac Avenue, combined their respective 250 family congregations into a new place of worship designed by Louis Greenstein. Greenstein’s design for Temple Beth David-Ner Israel was a break with the more traditional model of his former creation on Humboldt, and a break from a similarly traditional building at 85 Saranac.

In place of red-brown brick buildings, a sleek cream-colored mid-century structure arose on the site with a raised brick Menorah design on the right side of the building. The new synagogue’s clean lines and minimal embellishments was a design choice carried into the sanctuary. Continuity was maintained, however, by the retention of a clergy person from each congregation. Cantor William Nissenson, former cantor of Beth David became the cantor of the merged congregation and Rabbi Chaim Weinstein of Ner (Nu) Israel became Rabbi. Both congregations sold their respective buildings. Dedication events were held in September 1959. By this time Rabbi Seymour Freedman was serving as Rabbi to the congregation. Louis Goldstein was appointed the principal of the Temple Sunday School.

Temple Beth David Ner Israel enjoyed more than a decade at Starin Avenue, however the lure of suburbia led to another merger with Temple Emanu-El to form a new entity: Temple Shaarey Zedek that built a new home in Getzville, NY in 1968. Unlike most abandoned synagogues, the Temple Beth David-Ner Israel building remains in Jewish hands as the Bais Haknesses Hagadol Lubavitch (Knesset Center). Now under Chabad auspices, it provides services and activities for downtown residents and Jewish college students.

Associated Families

Family names associated with Temple Beth David-Ner Israel included:

  • Penn
  • Berger
  • Sanes
  • Rosen
  • Perman
  • Lansky
  • Glaser
  • Kahn
  • Freedman
  • Pastor
  • Dorfman
  • Tubin
  • Tick
  • Lichtenstein
  • Reich
  • Rosen
  • Matenovitz
  • Scheff
  • Rochwarger
  • Slepian
  • Pleskow
  • Fingeret
  • Glaser
  • Lichenstein
  • Dosberg
  • Lane
  • Kaminker
  • Ablove
  • Obstein
  • Kassirer
  • Schiffman
  • Hurwitz
  • Black




Discover More

  • Selig Adler and Thomas E. Connolly, From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo. Philadelphia, JPS: 1960.
  • “Beth David-Ner Israel Merger,” Buffalo Evening News, August 11, 1955. (This article refers to New Israel, and Ner Israel in the same article).  In other literature, names include Nu Israel, New Israel and Ner Israel.  Membership cards in the Temple Beth Tzedek archives use the name: New Israel.
  • “Dedication: Temple Beth David-Ner Israel,” Buffalo Evening News, Sept 14, 1959.

University Archives, University at Buffalo, NY Small amounts of Temple Shaarey Zedek Materials are located in three collections:

The papers of Charlotte E. Gendler, Muriel Selling and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Buffalo. To explore their collection summaries, please select a link below.

Contribute to this Page

We continue to seek internal and external photographs, documents, film, mementos and written recollections relating to Temple Beth David-Ner Israel and its members and history for digitization. If you have materials you’d like to make available for this purpose, please contact us.

Thank you

Our thanks to Temple Beth Tzedek for making their archives available and to individuals who allowed us to use their personal materials.