Temple Micah

Little more than a decade after Talmud Torah Congregation left Southwest, residents of the River Park Cooperative re-established a Jewish presence in the neighborhood.

Southwest Hebrew Congregation members were predominantly young and single, and shared a commitment to an integrated, urban community.

At first, members met in churches and homes for services and study. In 1966, the group began sharing space with St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church at 600 M Street, SW. Within a few years, the congregation affiliated with the Reform movement. In 1968, it adopted the name Temple Micah, named for the prophet who envisioned a world of peace.

By the late 1980s, Temple Micah had outgrown its shared space, and much of the congregation had left the area. Although many remained committed to the Southwest neighborhood, the congregation moved in order to establish their own, Jewish space. Temple Micah found a site on Wisconsin Avenue in upper Georgetown. Architects and members Robert Weinstein and Judith Capen, with the congregation’s involvement, designed a contemporary building and dedicated their new temple in 1995.

The 415-member congregation is now reviewing designs for expansion.

Links

St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church/Temple Micah, 600 M Street, S.W.

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1. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church/Temple Micah, 600 M Street, SW

When Temple Micah shared space with St. Augustine’s, a cross adorned the rooftop. To more clearly symbolize the building as Jewish space, Temple Micah added a menorah in 1976. Church congregants contributed to the cost. Looking for a space of their own, the congregation considered moving the old Adas Israel synagogue, now the Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum, to Southwest.

Temple Micah Collections
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“Race in the City”

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2. Notices of Southwest Hebrew Congregation events: “Race in the City”

Southwest Hebrew was deeply engaged in the social and political issues of the 1960s.


“Showcase 66”

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3. Notices of Southwest Hebrew Congregation events: “Showcase 66”

Struggling to make ends meet in their early years, the congregation covered expenses by holding annual art show fundraisers from 1967 through 1975.


Carrying Torahs from Southwest to the new Wisconsin Avenue temple, 1995

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4. Carrying Torahs from Southwest to the new Wisconsin Avenue temple, 1995

Temple Micah Collections
Temple Micah, Wisconsin Avenue, NW

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5. Temple Micah, Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Temple Micah’s building reflects the recent movement to create contemporary Jewish environments that still allude to the past. Architects Robert Weinstein and Judith Capen chose wood as the main material, a reference to the synagogues of Eastern Europe. The colors refer to the Sinai desert and priestly garments.

Photograph by Jeremy Goldberg
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Interior, Temple Micah, Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

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6. Interior, Temple Micah, Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Like many other synagogues built in the late twentieth-century, the interior of Temple Micah has fewer fixed features to allow for flexible seating and multiple uses.

Photograph by Anice Hoachlander