On November 2, 1856, fourteen pioneering Jewish men gathered at the home of Julius Glaser and founded a congregation with a clearly established constitution and set of by-laws in a community where only seven years earlier there were no Jewish settlers living. Just two years later, on Tuesday, October 26, l858, a dedication was held for the congregation's first consecrated home "in Judah's Block (East Washington Street), opposite the Court House."
IHC was the fourth synagogue to be established in the State of Indiana. Within a year of its founding, the congregation purchased a burial ground property (Kelly Street Cemetery) on the south side of Indianapolis which remains in use to this day.
The congregation persevered through the tragedy of the Civil War years, draping its building in mourning for Abraham Lincoln's death, witnessed the amazing technological changes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and persisted and grew through a major depression and two world wars and their cataclysmic effects.
Subsequent moves took IHC to the Market Street Temple in 1868 and the Tenth Street Temple in 1899, home to the congregation until its current home at 6501 North Meridian Street was completed in 1958.
The congregation has been blessed with passionate and talented clergy throughout its history, active and outspoken in their support of the causes of racial justice, the State of Israel, women's equality, the immigration of those oppressed, reproductive rights, civic involvement, and above all, social action.
Not only has the congregation been at the forefront of the civil rights movement at the state and national levels, it has been on the cutting edge right at home. In the 1960s, Muriel Romer became the first female executive director of IHC. In mid-1979, Cantor Janice Lowenstein Roger made history when she was appointed to our liturgical staff. Cantor Roger was, at that time, one of only ten female cantors in the nation and is still making beautiful music for the congregation today. June Herman became the first woman to hold the office of president of the congregation in 1980 and Patti Freeman Dorson became the first female ba'alat tekiah (shofar sounder) in 1981. And in 1999, Rabbi Ilana Baden became the first woman to serve as a rabbi at IHC.
Throughout its existence, decisions and actions at IHC have been guided by the mitzvah or hallowed act of Tikkun Olam, our individual and collective responsibility for repairing the world. That commitment continues today with projects supporting our neighbors in the Indianapolis, national and international communities and our fellow Jews in Israel and around the world.
Join us and become a part of the rich history of IHC!