Jews first arrived in Ogden during the railroad days of the mid- to late 1800’s. Ogden was a major stop for Jewish immigrants coming West. Those who settled in Ogden eventually formed Congregation Ohab Sholem in 1890, without the direction of a resident rabbi. High Holy Day religious services were held in the IOOF Hall on Grant Avenue, between 24th and 25th streets. The congregation reformed in 1916 as Brith Sholem (“Covenant of Peace”), and later dedicated a synagogue at its present location (2750 Grant Avenue) on August 21, 1921. (The cornerstone is located at the southwest corner of the building). The building is presently on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the “early years” (1917-1935) there were a series of six resident rabbis who led a variety of religious programs and taught children. However, as the Great Depression set in and the congregation shrank in numbers, it could no longer support a rabbi. From then until now the members of Brith Sholem have taken primary responsibility for maintaining traditions, celebrating holidays, and conducting ceremonies.
On December 30, 1989, Brith Sholem suffered a fire. While it left the building structurally sound, the fire caused major interior damage. The building was renovated during the ensuing years, with generous support from faith communities and individuals all across the state as well as congregation members. During the rebuilding effort services were held in space donated by the McKay Dee Hospital. The renovated building features numerous elements designed and built by Brith Sholem congregants. The rededication of the building has become a symbol of the renewed spirit of Brith Sholem. Today fourth-generation Ogdenites and newcomers to Ogden alike meet to worship in a synagogue older than most of the people in the congregation.
In 1996, Brith Sholem affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union of Reform Judaism – URJ), the Reform movement of American Judaism. This affiliation has made it possible for the congregation to benefit from a wide variety of programs and support, most notably a program that brings a student rabbi to the synagogue from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion one weekend a month to lead services and classses, including preparation of B’nai Mitzvah and conversion candidates.
Brith Sholem is an active, caring, and religiously observant congregation. Shabbat services are conducted every Friday evening and/or Saturday morning. We participate in the URJ Student Rabbi program, which provides us a qualified and enthusiastic leader for the High Holidays and one weekend a month for Shabbat services and other functions, including Torah study and adult and youth education. About once a month we hold a Family Shabbat service instead of a standard Friday evening service. During the summer, we usually have a Shabbat potluck once a month in place of services. We celebrate many of the Jewish holidays and festivals as a community, such as a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim and a Community Passover Seder. The synagogue also sponsors many social events throughout the year.