A Warm and Caring
Jewish Congregation

About Congregation Agudath Jacob

Members of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Congregation Agudath Jacob (CAJ) is a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the main congregational organization for Conservative synagogues in North America. Conservative Judaism, known as Masorti Judaism in Israel and elsewhere outside the U.S., is a worldwide movement that practices an egalitarian form of traditional Jewish worship.

The synagogue was formed in 1888 by A.L. Lipshitz as an Orthodox congregation. Its members were Ashkenazim (European Jews), primarily from Germany, among the first people to settle and build organized communities in Central Texas. Over the next century, CAJ occupied a couple of synagogue buildings in Waco. In 1966, CAJ became affiliated with the Conservative movement, and moved to its current location on Lake Shore Drive in 1972.

Throughout its history, CAJ has been led by distinguished rabbis, its membership has included prominent figures in the Waco community, and the synagogue has hosted well-known Jewish speakers from the U.S. and Israel. Its members have been active in national Jewish organizations, such as the Jewish Federations of North America. Besides regular shabbat and holiday services, the congregation offers a full complement of educational, social, and cultural programming, and maintains a kosher kitchen under rabbinic supervision and an Orthodox cemetery.

Our History

In 1870, only fifty of Waco’s 3,168 residents were Jewish. The Hebrew Benevolent Association and Cemetery of Waco were incorporated in 1873. The association was Waco’s earliest Jewish community organization. Its purpose was to support local Jewish settlers.

In the early 1880s, political unrest in many Eastern European countries let to heavy migration to the U.S. Consequently Waco’s Jewish population grew rapidly.

In 1886, fifteen Orthodox Jewish families brought Rabbi Samuel Levy to Waco. Two years later in 1888, Congregation Agudath Jacob, Waco’s first Orthodox synagogue, received its charter. By that time the number of Jewish families in Waco had grown to one hundred. Worship services were conducted in a rented room over a grocery store until 1894, when the congregation erected a frame synagogue at 624 Columbus Avenue.

In 1914 a new brick synagogue was erected at the site and Agudath Jacob’s membership rose to fifty families. The congregation included a Ladies Auxiliary Society and the Talmud Torah Religious School. In 1923, a Hebrew Institute was added to the Columbus Avenue facility. A new synagogue which included a social hall and classrooms was built in 1950 at 15th and Jefferson Streets.

In 1966 the traditional Orthodox congregation voted to ally itself with the Conservative movement. The congregation erected a new synagogue on Hillcrest Drive in 1972, and in 1993 added a Hebrew school.  Among the congregation’s longtime leaders are Rabbi Samuel Levy, who served for 62 years until his death in 1948; J.M. Rosenberg, who served as congregation secretary for 27 years; and Rabbi Charles Blumenthal, who served for 18 years. The Congregation has been served by rabbinic leadership continuously since 1886.

Our Cemetery

Congregation Agudath Jacob owns a cemetery in Waco, Texas. Agudath Jacob Cemetery is located on Garden Drive, between 12th Street and 16th Street, in Waco. The cemetery is located due west of Rosemound Cemetery, which is also on Garden Drive (but it is not part of Rosemound Cemetery). Our congregation’s cemetery is contiguous to the cemetery of Temple Rodef Sholom, Waco’s Reform congregation.

A listing of interments at Agudath Jacob Cemetery, along with photographs of the cemetery and of selected gravesites, can be found online at this link.

For more information about Agudath Jacob Cemetery, about making funeral arrangements, and about decisions to be made regarding Jewish mourning, please contact Congregation Agudath Jacob at 254-772-1451 or cajassistant@mygrande.net.

The congregation has copies available of a brochure entitled, “Guidelines for Funeral Arrangements and Mourning Practices.” It contains information about cemetery rules, what to do when a death occurs in the family, selection of a casket and gravesite, responsibilities and mitzvot governing the funeral service, and details about our chevra kadishah and about kriashivasheloshimkaddishyahrzeityizkor, memorial gifts, unveiling, and other issues that arise in the Jewish mourning process.

4925 Hillcrest Drive • Waco, Texas 76710 • (254) 772-1451