Merchants who lived above their shops along M Street, NW, formed the core of the Georgetown Jewish community at the turn of the twentieth century.
Many of the German Jews who came to Georgetown after the Civil War prayed at Washington Hebrew. A new influx of Eastern European immigrants, also shopkeepers, founded a new Orthodox synagogue in 1911 near their homes in Georgetown and the West End neighborhood. Members of the Georgetown Hebrew Benevolent Society hired a cantor, borrowed a Torah, and rented a private home for High Holiday services.
In 1915, the fifty-member congregation bought a private home at 2801 N Street, NW, and incorporated as Kesher Israel. In 1931, they built a new synagogue on the site. Georgetown, once a prosperous port city that had become an eclectic mix of poverty and wealth, was on the cusp of revival. However, membership dwindled in the 1950s and 1960s as Orthodox families moved to larger homes in the suburbs.
The congregation experienced a turnaround in the 1970s, benefiting from new leadership, the revitalization of Georgetown, and a resurgence of interest in Orthodox Judaism. Membership today numbers 300 families and includes many young professionals. During the 2000 election season, congregant Senator Joseph Lieberman brought attention to Kesher Israel when he refrained from campaigning for vice president to attend Shabbat services.