Save the Knesset Israel Congregation; Stop the Re-Zoning Efforts

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Dear Members of the Mountain Brook City Council,

We, the members of the Jewish Community of Greater Birmingham, and concerned citizens of Greater Birmingham, ask that you consider our petition to save the Knesset Israel Congregation building located at 3100 Overton Road, Birmingham, Alabama 35223. Specifically, we request that the re-zoning efforts and application to turn this building into a professional zone be rejected outright by the Mountain Brook City Council.

Knesset Israel has over 130 years of history in Birmingham, Alabama and is the only Modern Orthodox synagogue in Alabama and Mississippi. While this congregation has gone through many ups and downs throughout the years, the members have always risen above any challenge that threatens their structure. The building in question was built through their own efforts and in 2013 when it was put up for sale, two wealthy members of our community stepped up and ensured their continued presence in the Mountain Brook neighborhood promising that this would be “in perpetuity” as long as Knesset Israel remained a viable synagogue.

Knesset Israel is not only a viable synagogue; its members are a close-knit group of Jewish believers who function like a family. Many of them live in the surrounding Mountain Brook neighborhood and walk to synagogue on Sabbaths and Jewish Festivals, exchanging pleasantries with neighbors along the way. They regularly hold services, share Sabbath meals together every Saturday, host dinners and speakers from all over the United States and Israel, have a women’s choir, meet every Sunday morning for prayers and breakfast while studying ancient Jewish texts, have Monday night classes, and host other events throughout the year. However, their home of worship is being threatened today. 

Please note that our signatures represent our voices and our opposition to the re-zoning of the Knesset Israel building from that of non-profit to that of professional. This re-zoning would not only impact how the synagogue affects the surrounding neighborhood, ending years of positive interaction with Mountain Brook neighbors, it could also bring about the demise of the congregation, driving them from their house of worship and possibly forcing them to move out of Mountain Brook in search of a different worship venue. Additionally, the Jewish Community of Greater Birmingham would be hugely impacted in a negative way by any loss suffered by the Knesset Israel Congregation.

You have an opportunity to save a Jewish House of Worship. Please save the home of Knesset Israel Congregation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

The Members of the Greater Jewish Community and concerned citizens of Greater Birmingham