In 1958, a handful of Emerson's Jewish families joined to establish a local spiritual home. For nearly five years, meetings for the fledgling Emerson Jewish Center were held in member's homes, services and Hebrew School classes were held at Emerson's Borough Hall, in the Field House at Emerson's Hillman Field and at the R.C. Church of the Assumption, also in Emerson. In 1963, with a growing membership approaching forty families, groundbreaking began for a new synagogue building on a Palisade Avenue parcel of land. The new building housing the Emerson Jewish Center was dedicated in 1964.

Over the next ten years, the Emerson Jewish Center saw a steady increase in membership, leading to the need for additional space. In 1975, an expansion project ensued that would result in a new and enlarged sanctuary, conversion of the original building into classrooms for the Hebrew School and a new office for the Rabbi. With the expanded building, the Emerson Jewish Center acquired a new name, Congregation B'nai Israel (Children of Israel), reflecting a changing demographic composition. The congregation which originally was comprised of 100% Emerson residents, was now quickly attracting families from outside of Emerson. Currently, nearly 60% of the temple's membership are non-Emerson residents

In 2003, with membership at 235 families, Congregation B'nai Israel completed a lobby expansion and sanctuary modernization project to answer the needs of worshippers. The sanctuary's bimah was rebuilt and made accessible to the handicapped and elderly. In the lobby, improvements included a new front entrance and new gift shop.

Congregation B'nai Israel is a conservative egalitarian synagogue.  Rabbi Debra Orenstein became the temple's rabbi in 2010, Cantor Lenny Mandel is Hazan, Zahava Gall is Hebrew School Principal and Sidney Derner is Hazan Emeritus.

Congregation B'nai Israel introduced a new flexible Hebrew School program for the 2009 - 2010 school year, and the program continues to be well-received by families. Please see our Hebrew School page for full details. Throughout the year we offer Adult Education classes and many religious and social functions from our many active committees, including Sisterhood, Mens Club, Social Action, and Focus On Israel.

Congregation B'nai Israel is THE "Home for Today's Jewish Families"