||B'nai B'rith Building|
B'nai B'rith building on East 55th Street
From 1912 until the early 1940's, the B'nai B'rith building on East 55th Street near St. Clair Avenue, was a Jewish landmark.
In 1912 the three Cleveland B'nai B'rith lodges - Solomon #16, Montefiore #54 and Baron de Hirsch #454 - merged and acquired the building, constructed in 1907 as Pythian Hall. The organization served an important purpose, bringing together active and involved Jewish men to address issues of Jewish concern.
The building occupies a place in Cleveland Jewish history for it was there on Sunday February 24, 1917 that Abba Hillel Silver, only 24 and in his first pulpit in Wheeling West Virginia, spoke. Alfred Benesch, then a trustee of The Temple, was active in B'nai B'rith regional affairs where he had met Rabbi Silver, also an active member. Benesch may have invited Silver to come to Cleveland. As Benjamin Lowenstein, president of The Temple, would later tell Rabbi Silver, all the trustees had attended and knew immediately that they had found their new rabbi.
the years following, B'nai B'rith's
membership grew rapidly with 12 new lodges
formed in many neighborhoods. The lodges
were men-only. In 1933, Heights Chapter 119
was formed, for women. (In 1990 B'nai B'rith
Women separated from B'nai B'rith
International and in 1995 adopted a new name
- Jewish Women International.)