Congregation Beth Hatikvah was founded in 1947 for post-war Jewish residents and immigrants as the Jewish Community Center with a new building constructed and dedicated in 1949.
Over the years, our community evolved from a gathering place and social club into a full-fledged synagogue, the first Jewish synagogue in Kitsap County. CBH affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism(URJ) in 1999, and still resides in the original historical building.
CBH has enjoyed talented, inspiring leadership since its founding with the visiting student Rabbi Program of Hebrew Union College, visiting rabbis and song leaders, and finally, formally ordained experienced Rabbis.
Born on the Isle of Rhodes in 1900, Morris Soriano came to Bremerton from Seattle at the age of 19. With a start as a laborer in the fruit market, Morris and his brother Isaac became successful businessmen, generous philanthropists, and were part of a close knit Jewish community in Kitsap County comprised of business owners, professionals and their families. In the heart of downtown Bremerton today, a historic landmark building is identified as the Soriano Professional Building.
In 1947, this Jewish group of families in Bremerton founded the Community Jewish Center in Kitsap County, and at the first formal meeting held on March 9 of that year, Mildred Cohen announced her intention of deeding land in Bremerton for a permanent home. “This presentation is given in the memory of my son, Lt. Maurice Herman Cohen, who first saw light in 1918 and who gave his life for his country in the Philippines in 1944.” Following the building was dedication on January 9, 1949, the 60 member families began making it a welcoming home for worship and social functions. Dedication plaques are visible along the base on the 11th Avenue side of the building.
Following the 1950s post-war prosperity and flourishing of the community, the 1960’s and 1970’s saw many of the children from the original families leaving for college and job opportunities elsewhere, settling permanently outside of the county or the state. In the 1980’s, Bremerton businesses were closing and the shopping hub of the county was shifting to the Silverdale area; by 1989, a declining membership at the Community Center threatened to close the doors forever.
Rabbi Bud Frankel, the most senior Jewish chaplain in the Navy, was on his last tour on the Carl Vinson when he requested use of the building to provide services for his men. His inspiration and leadership helped spur a new energy in the community, and in 1992 with the influx of a group of young Jewish families the Community Center was re-organized as a synagogue and affiliated with the URJ. (The original sign from that time can be seen above the front door.) Services were held for the High Holy Days, and for one Friday night and one Shabbat morning per month. In addition to hosting many holiday celebrations, a religious school was begun so families could pass on traditions, history and wisdom of our heritage to the children. Morris Soriano’s son, Louis Soriano, remarked, “It’s wonderful to see the children and women up on the Bimah. This greater participation in services is a marked difference from our early years.” But alas, after a time, the cycle began again with the children from these young families leaving for college and job opportunities afar; membership started to dwindle, and much of the maintenance and improvements to the aging historic building were deferred.
CBH is a vibrant community, welcoming Jews by birth, Jews by choice, and Jews at heart for worship, social functions, and much more! While still in the same historic building at the corner of Veneta and 11th in Bremerton, we are actively re-invigorating our facilities and programming for our diverse and growing community. In addition to offering High Holy Day services, Shabbat services three times most months, adult and youth education, a variety of social activities and programs, charitable activity opportunities, year-round holiday celebrations and observances, life-cycle events with our rabbi, and outreach and support to the Naval and greater Kitsap communities, we host guest speakers, dramatic presentations, Havdalah Movie Nights, Shared Shabbat dinners, and outside opportunities to worship out-of-doors. Come be a part of our community and bring your vision and energy to Congregation Beth Hatikvah!