New Synagogues

Within Washington’s city limits and beyond, old and new synagogues flourished.

Jewish congregations moved north and west away from the city’s core, constructing modern new synagogues with expanded schools, social rooms, and kitchens. New congregations formed on the outskirts of the city and in surrounding neighborhoods in Montgomery County and Northern Virginia.

I was waiting with my wife for a bus outside a shoe store on Wilson Boulevard. We heard singing and we looked at each other and I said, ‘I’m sure that’s Hebrew.’ And sure enough over the shoe store was a synagogue! So we joined right away.

Jerome Dick, Interview, 2004.

Photo of Arlington Fairfax groundbreaking

1948: Arlington Fairfax Jewish Center began meeting over Sam Friedman’s shoe store in Clarendon in the early 1940s. Here, congregation president C. Edward Goldberg speaks at the dedication of the synagogue on Arlington Boulevard. In 2002, the congregation changed its name to Etz Hayim.

Courtesy of Leslie Goldberg.

Montgomery County Jewish Community brochure

1947: Young Jewish families in Chevy Chase and Silver Spring organized Montgomery County Jewish Community (MCJC). By 1952 the synagogue-center had engaged a fulltime rabbi and later built a synagogue on land donated by real estate developer Sam Eig. MCJC changed its name to Ohr Kodesh Congregation in 1966.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Rabbi Tzvi and Esther Porath. 2003.15

Photos of Adas Israel

1951: Adas Israel dedicated its new synagogue at Connecticut and Porter Streets, NW.

JHSGW Collections.

Eisenhower at WHC

1955: President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke at the dedication of Washington Hebrew’s new building at Massachusetts Avenue and Macomb Street, NW.

Courtesy of Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Talmud Torah destruction

1959: Ohev Sholom, at 5th and I Streets, NW, merged with Congregation Talmud Torah in 1958. In 1960, the combined Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah built a new synagogue on upper 16th Street, NW. In 1959, Talmud Torah’s original building on E Street, SW, was demolished as part of an urban renewal project.

Copyright Washington Post; reprinted by permission of the DC Public Library.

cornerstone laying of Sinai

1956: When Temple Sinai dedicated its new Military Road synagogue, a 2000-year old stone from the Third Wall of Jerusalem was used as the cornerstone. Seen from left to right at the cornerstone laying are congregation President David Yentis, Rabbi A. Balfour Brickner, and United Nations Delegate Paul G. Hoffman.

Courtesy of Temple Sinai.

The Jewish Star front cover with photos of Beth El Hebrew, Agudas Achim, Tifereth Israel, Beth Sholom, and Shomrei Emunah

1957: Tifereth Israel Congregation moved from Columbia Heights to Shepherd Park along upper 16th Street. Despite the decrease in the Jewish population in the area in the 1960s, congregants remained committed to their city location.

Shomrai Emunah, formed in 1952 by a handful of government workers, dedicated a small building on Eastern Avenue, NE.

Beth Sholom built the area’s largest Orthodox synagogue at 13th Street and Eastern Avenue, NW.

With more than 6,000 Jews in Northern Virginia by the mid-1950s, the two oldest congregations, Beth El Hebrew and Agudas Achim, built new, larger synagogues in Alexandria.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Bebe Perlmutter. 1995.11

Shaare Tikvah brochure

1965: Congregation Shaare Tikvah consecrated ground in Temple Hills, Maryland, for a new synagogue. The congregation was formed by a merger of three small synagogues created in the 1940s by federal workers living in southeast Washington: B’nai Jacob, Beth Israel, and the Washington Highlands Jewish Center.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Bebe Perlmutter. 1995.11

Temple Micah in SW

1960s: In 1964, residents of the newly redeveloped Southwest founded a Reform congregation, Southwest Hebrew Congregation. Renamed Temple Micah in 1968, the congregation shared space with St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church at 600 M Street, SW. Temple Micah added a menorah on the rooftop alongside the church’s cross.

Courtesy of Temple Micah.

Photo of Arlington Fairfax groundbreaking
Montgomery County Jewish Community brochure
Photos of Adas Israel
Eisenhower at WHC
Talmud Torah destruction
cornerstone laying of Sinai
The Jewish Star front cover with photos of Beth El Hebrew, Agudas Achim, Tifereth Israel, Beth Sholom, and Shomrei Emunah
Shaare Tikvah brochure
Temple Micah in SW