Beth David, known as Miami’s Pioneer Synagogue, is Miami’s oldest congregation. It was founded in 1912, shortly after Henry Flagler extended his railroad from Palm Beach to Miami, and has been at its current Coral Way location since 1949.
Originally named B’nai Zion after Morris Zion, the congregation consisted of a handful of dedicated Jews who conducted services in a congregant’s home. As members of the Miami Jewish community experienced life cycle events, they realized the importance of establishing a Jewish burial ground in the area, and in 1913, they founded the Jewish section of the City of Miami Cemetery.
Jewish families continued to settle in Miami, and the lay-led congregation grew into a multi-faceted community with a choir, sisterhood, religious services and Hebrew school. In 1920, they finally found a home in downtown Miami, and B’nai Zion became Beth David Congregation.
The establishment of Miami’s first synagogue catalyzed the launch of numerous Jewish aid organizations, including the United Jewish Aid Association (now called Jewish Family Service), Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women and a B’nai B’rith lodge. At the end of World War II, the Jewish population in southwest Miami was rapidly expanding, resulting in the purchase of our current site in 1949. Beth David reached its zenith during that period with nearly 1,000 members and a dynamic team of leaders.
Today, Beth David houses the Gordon School of Beth David Congregation, which encompass an Early Childhood Center, Jewish day school and the Tikvah Center, the only autism-specific program within a Jewish day school in Florida. Beth David also offers life-long learning opportunities, including adult education and conversion classes, and social action programs. The spectacular campus the size of a full city block is a sought-after venue for weddings, B’nai Mitzvah and special occasions, and the Beck Museum of Judaica showcases more than 500 Jewish artifacts.