The towns along the Kiskiminetas River, south of its junction with the Allegheny River, were settled in the late 18th and early 19th century. Apollo was incorporated as a borough in 1848, followed by Leechburg in 1850. The Apollo Iron & Steel Co. became the important industrial facility in the area in the 1890s. The company built a new mill in 1896 and developed the entire neighboring town of Vandergrift for its workers.
The first Jewish settler in the region appears to be Jacob Silverman, a Russian immigrant who started a river transportation business near present-day Apollo in 1841. In the first three decades of the 20th century, a number of Jewish families began settling throughout the Kiski Valley, particularly the boroughs of Apollo, Leechburg and Vandergrift. They chartered Agudas B’nai Israel in 1924. Little is known about the congregation, aside from that fact that it regularly held bar mitzvah ceremonies from 1921 until at least 1960.
The American Jewish Yearbook listed a Jewish population of 63 for Leechburg in its 1928-1929 edition. The yearbook listed a combined population of 151 for the three Kiski Valley towns (85 in Vandergrift, 55 in Leechburg and 11 in Apollo) in its 1940-1941 edition.
The Kiski Valley was home to several Jewish organizations. The Kiski Valley Hadassah was founded in 1921 and grew to 37 members. The Kiski Valley Men’s Club was founded in 1938 and became affiliated with B’nai B’rith the following year with 42 members. The Kiski Valley Lodge played in a regional B’nai B’rith softball league from 1940 to 1943. The Kiski Valley United Jewish Charities was founded in 1938 and collected 100 percent of its pledges through at least 1982. The Kiski Valley also maintained a religious school under the auspices of the Southwestern District of Pennsylvania Jewish Religious Schools and held about seven confirmation classes.
By the 1970s and 1980s, many of the members of these organizations were living in other towns and joined chapters closer to home. Agudas B’nai Israel dissolved and donated some of its ritual materials to Beth Jacob Congregation in New Kensington about 1970.