University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Helen Bader Concert Hall

The Helen Bader Concert Hall contains 760 seats, a large open stage 72 feet wide and 38 feet deep, an orchestra pit and a stage lighting system capable of meeting most performance requirements. The concert hall is located in the Helene Zelazo Center of the Performing Arts at 2419 East Kenwood Boulevard. Formerly the sanctuary for Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, the building was acquired by the Peck School of the Arts in 2000 and was renovated into a major performance venue for music.

The original B’ne Jeshurun was formed from three tiny Jewish congregations in 1856. Thirteen years later, 35 families left the congregation to establish a new Congregation Emanu-El, and the groups resided separately for 58 years. In 1922, Emanu-El, requiring more space, built a new facility on Kenwood Boulevard. When plans for the new Milwaukee County Courthouse on 10th and Cedar Street (now Kilbourn Avenue) called for the demolition of B’ne Jeshurun’s synagogue in 1927, Milwaukee’s two Reform congregations merged and have since existed as Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun. Seventy years later, the Congregation moved to a new building in River Hills, and the old synagogue became UWM’s Helene Zelazo Center of the Performing Arts.

The art windows of the Helen Bader Concert Hall were designed by Milwaukee Rabbi Joseph L. Baron, who served the community from 1926 to 1960. The 14 individual windows contain Hebrew words and symbols of Jewish idealism.