A Capital Community


During the Civil War, Washington’s Jewish population grew from 200 to nearly 2,000. The only Jewish congregation, Washington Hebrew, was made up primarily of German-speaking immigrant merchants and clerks. Most lived and worked in the Seventh Street, NW, neighborhood.

Social clubs like Harmonie Circle and Select Assembly provided fellowship through masked Purim balls and other soirees. When Elijah Lodge No. 5 opened in 1864, it signaled the arrival of the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith.

Washington, D.C., 1861

Washington, D.C., in 1861. Note that the Capitol dome is still under construction.