Wilkinsburg is a borough in Allegheny County, Pa. It was incorporated as a borough in October 1887, after separating from Sterrett Township. The population of Wilkinsburg increased through the first half of the 20th century, including some Jewish families.
In the early 1920s, the Jewish population of Wilkinsburg was too small to support independent institutions. It partnered with Jewish families in nearby Homewood-Brushton to form B’nai Zion Congregation, a religious school, and a ladies’ auxiliary.
Growth of the local Jewish population in the late 1920s and early 1930s allowed the Wilkinsburg contingent to become independent. Over the winter of 1935 and 1936, Mrs. Sigmund Arnold conducted a survey of Jewish families in the neighborhood at the urging of Alexander Reich. The survey found nearly 100 Jewish families living in Wilkinsburg, many with children. The Jewish Women’s Club of Wilkinsburg was formed in February 1936 and an associated religious school was formed in March 1936 under the auspices of the Southwestern District of Pennsylvania Jewish Religious Schools Program. By the end of that year, the community had organized Beth Israel Congregation of Wilkinsburg.
Beth Israel Congregation briefly used rented halls at 710 Penn Ave. (Spartan Club) and 745 Penn Ave. (Knights of Pythias) through early 1936 before securing a longer-term home at 759 Penn Ave. In late 1941, the congregation obtained a charter and relocated to a building at 1214 Wood St. The congregation closed this synagogue sometime after 1969 and transferred its memorial boards to Beth Zion Congregation in Squirrel Hill.
People known to have been associated with Beth Israel Congregation of Wilkinsburg include Mrs. Benjamin W. Applebaum, Mrs. Sigmund Arnold, Robert Arnold, Rose Arnold, Arnold Leonard Biron, Betty Rae Biron, Mrs. C. Biron, Mr. and Mrs. J. Bloom, Mrs. M. C. Chernoff, Ben Cohen, Dorothy Goldie Cohen, Bess Davidow, Mr. and Mrs. Meyer M. Davidow, Dorothy Davis, Rebecca Davis, Clara Diamond, Mrs. Fidler, Melvin Goldy, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Goldy, Mrs. E. Goodman, Mrs. J. Gordan, Lewis Greenstein, Mrs. Ben Handmaker, Mrs. B. Hautman, Henrietta G. Horr, Lawrence Horr, Mr. and Mrs. David Horr, Ida Iancu, J. N. Iancu, Mrs. S. Judd, Frank R. S. Kaplan, H. Kaufman, Arthur Knee, Clara Knee, Lawrence Knee, Mrs. E. Knee, Ruth Serene Knee, Mrs. Milton Krupp, Ethel Labovitz, A. Labowitz, Abe Labowitz, Shirley Lebovitz, Mrs. S. Leiber, Mrs. E. Lencher, Mrs. Issac H. Levin, Mrs. J. L. Levitan, Mr. and Mrs. Sol Leiber, Robert Lurie, Mr. and Mrs. H. Mandell, M. Mayerstein, Florence Moskovitz, Mrs. B. Newman, Mrs. I. Osseroff, Mrs. Milton Pearlstone, Alexander Reich, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Reich, Margaret (Spiegel) Reich, Morres Reich, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Reich, William Reich, Florita Reiner, Mrs. Albert Reiner, A. A. Rosenberg, Hemina G. Rosenberg, Hyman Rosenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Rosenberg, Selma Rosenthal, Harry Rubins, Rose Rubins, Charles Sable, Adelade Schleicher, Mrs. M. D. Schuster, Mrs. A. J. Schwartz, Mrs. Sidney Schwartz, Harvey Shapiro, Mr. and Mrs. Morris Sheck, Roslyn Sheck, Mr. and Mrs. Morris Shuster, Shirley Shuster, I. Sieff, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Sieff, Saul Morris Sieff, Jerome Siegel, Bernard Silverblatt, Edith Silverblatt, Annette Simons, Lil Slotlow, Goldy Solotow, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Stein, Lois Thoma, H. Wedner, Jacob Aaron Wedner, Mrs. Jack Weinberg, Bertha Weiner, Louis Weiner, David Weisner, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Weisner, Hermine West, Mrs. Max Wolf, Mrs. J. Wolfe, and Mrs. B. Zeiders.
Beth Israel Congregation of Wilkinsburg appears to have never had full-time clergy but often hired rabbis and cantors for the High Holidays and other special occasions. Spiritual leaders affiliated with the congregation through the years include Cantor Morris Barrish, Cantor Benjamin Browdie, Rev. H. Goldberg, Rabbi Morris Herzlich, Cantor David Messeroff, Rabbi Miller, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, and Cantor M. B. Wolff.
|1936||710 Penn Ave., Wilkinsburg, Pa. 15221||Assembly Hall/Spartan Club||YES||Jewish Criterion, March 6, 1936, p18 (online)|
|1936||745 Penn Ave., Wilkinsburg, Pa. 15221||Knights of Pythias Hall||YES||Jewish Criterion, November 10, 1936, p19 (online)|
|1936-1941||759 Penn Ave., Wilkinsburg, PA 15221||rented storefront||YES||Jewish Criterion, 01/08/1937, p18 (online)|
|1941-c1969||1214 Wood St., Wilkinsburg, Pa. 15221||synagogue||—||Jewish Criterion, 12/12/1941, p23 (online); Pittsburgh Press, 09/06/1969 (online)|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1880||1,529||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1890||4,662||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1900||11,886||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1910||18,924||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1920||24,403||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Jewish population [Wilkinsburg]||1927||200||American Jewish Yearbook, Vol. 30 [1928-1929]|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1930||29,639||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Jewish population [Wilkinsburg]||1936||nearly one hundred Jewish families||Jewish Criterion, March 6, 1936, p18|
|Jewish population [Wilkinsburg]||1937||300||American Jewish Yearbook, Vol. 42 [1940-1941]|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1940||29,853||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1950||31,418||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1960||30,066||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Jewish population [Wilkinsburg]||1963||54||"The Jewish Community of Pittsburgh: a Population Sutdy, 1963" Note: Includes Jewish population of neighboring Swissvale.|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1970||26,780||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1980||23,669||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||1990||21,080||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||2000||19,196||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||2010||15,930||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|
|Total population [Wilkinsburg]||2020||14,349||U.S. Census via Wikipedia|