Adas Israel Congregation

In 1869, thirty-eight members of Washington Hebrew who opposed the congregation’s drift from tradition resigned to form the Orthodox Adas Israel Congregation. Now Washington had two congregations.

After worshipping in rented spaces, Adas Israel raised $4,800 to build a synagogue at the corner of 6th and G Streets, NW. President Ulysses S. Grant attended the 1876 dedication. The simple red brick synagogue was located within walking distance of members’ homes.

Adas Israel soon needed a larger space to accommodate its growing membership. In 1908, the congregation dedicated an elaborate new, high-domed synagogue two blocks north at 6th and I Streets, NW. The congregation affiliated with the Conservative movement in 1928.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Adas Israel’s members were moving uptown, mainly to neighborhoods east of Rock Creek Park. The congregation built an expansive new facility in Cleveland Park in 1951 that continues to serve its membership today — now expanded to nearly 1,800 households.

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G Street, between 5th and 6th Streets, NW, c. 1905

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1. G Street, between 5th and 6th Streets, NW, c. 1905

This view of Adas Israel (lower right corner) and its surrounding neighborhood shows how homes, businesses, places of worship, and federal buildings existed side-by-side in early twentieth-century Washington. Note the imposing Pension Building behind the synagogue and the Capitol dome in the background.

JHSGW Collections
Original Adas Israel building being moved, 1969

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2. Original Adas Israel building being moved, 1969

When the original Adas Israel was marked for demolition, the Jewish Historical Society intervened to save the building. The Society moved the synagogue three blocks from its original location to a new site at 3rd and G Streets, N.W., in 1969.

© Washington Post; Reprinted by permission of the D.C. Public Library
Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum, 701 3rd Street, N.W.

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3. Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum, 3rd and G Streets

The first Adas Israel synagogue now serves as the the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington’s Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum.


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Adas Israel building, 6th and I Street, N.W.

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4. Adas Israel Congregation, 6th and I Street, NW

Architect Louis Levi of Baltimore designed Adas Israel’s second synagogue at 6th and I Streets, N.W., dedicated in 1908. In 2002 three Jewish real estate developers purchased the building from Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, which had owned it since 1951. The building has been restored as the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue.

Photograph by Jeremy Goldberg
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Confirmation class at 6th and I Streets, NW, 1944

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5. Confirmation class at 6th and I Streets, NW, 1944

Rabbi Solomon Metz is shown in the center.

JHSGW collections
Adas Israel Congregation, 1951-present

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6. Adas Israel, Connecticut and Porter Streets, NW

Architects Frank Grad & Sons designed the third of Adas Israel’s buildings with the clean lines, large scale, and bright interiors shared by many large postwar synagogues.

Photograph by Jeremy Goldberg
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