The Congregation of Beth Israel opened the first synagogue in Austin over 120 years ago. Jewish residents lived here for a generation with no formal site at which to worship. But in 1876, a pioneering group of about 30 Jewish citizens met with the Mayor to organize their Reformed Judaism congregation. The group was chartered in 1879, and construction was completed on the synagogue at 11th and San Jacinto in 1884. In 1953, a new site on Shoal Creek Boulevard was purchased to accommodate their significant growth. Construction was complete by 1956 and a stained glass filled sanctuary followed in 1967. The Torah used in this sanctuary was given by a woman who escaped Nazi persecution in Hungary.