A photo of the Manalapan area's first Jewish synagogue. It was built in 1919 and was located on Mechanic St (now Hamilton St) in Englishtown. The congregation, Sons of Israel, was led by Rabbi Morris Zarchin.
The original ark from the first building.

Congregation Sons of Israel was founded in 1917 as an Orthodox synagogue in Englishtown, NJ by a group of local farmers and businessmen. Many of our founders were immigrants from Poland and Russia. In the late 1960’s, the congregation moved to its current building in Manalapan, NJ, at which time the congregation removed its Mechitza.

Aside from that specific change, Sons of Israel continued to operate as an Orthodox synagogue, hiring only Orthodox rabbis and remaining connected with the RCA, the OU and NCSY for many years. In addition to our strong history of rabbinic leadership, the synagogue is governed by our lay Board of Directors, in accordance with our model of member governance.

Our synagogue has been a major center of Jewish life for central New Jersey over the decades. At our peak, we had several hundred member families and enjoyed holiday services with many hundreds of people in attendance. Our facility includes eight classrooms, three kitchens, a 5,000 square foot social hall a library, and our “Simcha Room.”

Recent decades have seen a young Orthodox community growing in different parts of New Jersey. Here in Manalapan, our proximity to Lakewood and other communities, the proliferation of Kosher shopping, and the presence of Jewish Days Schools, as well as a local Mikvah, have all created an opportunity for the growth of our community. Recognizing the changing demographics, the Membership voted in 2021 to reinstate the Mechitzah and return to our Orthodox roots. Our Mechitzah was reinstalled in March 2022.

We worked closely with Yeshiva University and the Rabbinical Council of America to recruit a new Rabbi who could build a welcoming community and a strong Shul family. To this end, we brought in Rabbi Ken Brodkin and his wife, Aviel.  In 2023, we rebranded, and the synagogue is now called Congregation B’nai Israel. We enjoy a membership of approximately 180 families.

We’re proud to serve Manalapan and Monmouth County with a robust schedule of services and program. Looking forward, we are excited about further developing our program and services as we become an even stronger resource for our local Jewish community. Manalapan is a great place to raise a Jewish family. We look forward to helping more folks thrive Jewishly in our area.