MLC incorporates, 1900, Sacramento Bee
MLC on H Street 1917-1940
MLC on K Street 1940-1974
Coming on the heels of the California Gold Rush in 1849, the Sacramento Hebrew Benevolent Society bought a prefabricated building in 1850 which became the first synagogue dedicated on the West Coast, Temple B’nai Israel. The synagogue observed Orthodox traditions until 1880 when it transitioned to Reform Judaism.
In the early 1890s, several Orthodox Jews met in the back room of Bloomberg’s clothing store to conduct religious services while the women minded the storefront. On February 27, 1900, seven families led by Moses Warhaftig organized and named the new synagogue, Chevra Torat Moshe, Mosaic Law Fellowship, whose purpose was to “…perpetuate the worship of one God conformably to the traditions and customs of Israel and the laws of Moses as interpreted in the Talmud, and to maintain in connection therewith suitable and customary organizations for all purposes of religious training and the burial of the dead.” In the early years, religious services were held in private residences or public halls.
In 1915, Mosaic Law Congregation hired its first rabbi and, in 1917, purchased its first building at 1418 H Street. Rabbi Brosin assumed the spiritual leadership role in 1920, served as community shochet and started the religious school. During his tenure, Mosaic Law Congregation's Sisterhood was formed.
As the community rapidly grew, the shul moved to a larger building at 23rd and K Streets and was officially incorporated in August, 1940. Over the next decade, the synagogue wrestled with whether to affiliate with Orthodox or the newly emerging Conservative movement. In the 1950s, the synagogue formally joined United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. With membership growing, the K Street shul added a social hall and a school building.
By the late 1960s, the synagogue was outgrowing its space. Land was acquired on Sierra Boulevard and a groundbreaking ceremony took place on February 21, 1971. Having vacated the K Street site, services moved to the Unitarian Universalist Church down the street or the Scottish Rite Temple one mile away.
The cornerstone laying ceremony was held on September 22, 1974. Construction was completed in January 1976, in time for Mosaic Law Congregation's 75th Anniversary Dinner.
Prior to the completion of the Sanctuary building, congregants convened in what is now the Pearl-Cohn-Finegold Beit Midrash. The Beit Midrash, which was refurbished in 2010, is now the home of our daily minyan.
The 1970s and 80s saw Mosaic Law Congregation change its worship emphasis from Friday night to Shabbat morning, allowed women to participate on the bimah and encouraged girls to hold B'not Mitzvah ceremonies on Shabbat, just like the boys. Mosaic Law Congregation is also proud to have had Arlene Pearl, z"l, as the first female board president of any Conservative shul.
Beginning in the 1970s, the Shalom School, Sacramento’s only community day school, shared a former public-school campus with the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region. In the early 2000s, Shalom School was informed by the Federation that the property would be sold. Needing a new home, a group from Mosaic Law Congregation initiated a capital campaign to not only build a new building for Shalom School on the Mosaic Law Congregation campus, but also build an event center and adult Jewish library. Shalom School opened its new campus in the fall of 2007 (www.shalomschool.org).
The Kashenberg-Ostrow-Hayward (KOH) Library and Cultural Center opened its doors in 2007. Often referred to as the “jewel in Mosaic Law Congregation’s crown,” the 3,500 square foot KOH Library and Cultural Center houses an impressive collection of over 5,000 books and videos by and about Jews. The Library has sponsored a myriad of adult lectures, forums, meetings, artist receptions and workshops. KOH is run by a dedicated group of volunteers (www.kohlcc.org).
Since its inception, Mosaic Law Congregation has had 16 rabbis, including Rabbi Lionel Moses, with Rabbi Reuven Taff having served the longest at 25 years. His retirement in July 2020 brought Rabbi Moses back as Mosaic Law Congregation’s interim rabbi for two years until Rabbi Ben Herman was hired to fulfill the position of senior rabbi in 2022.