Mission & History


We explore the unique Jewish heritage of Washington as a hometown and as the nation's capital.


Moving synagogue

Synagogue moving down G Street, 1969

Copyright 1969, The Washington Post. Jim McNamara, photographer. Used with permission.

Founded by volunteers in 1960, the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington was incorporated in 1965 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to interpreting Jewish history in the greater Washington area. In 1969, galvanized by the pending demolition of the oldest synagogue building in the nation's capital, Society members arranged for the historic building to be moved three city blocks to its present location (more photos of the move!). After extensive restoration, the synagogue was rededicated and opened to the public as the Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum in 1975.

The historic 1876 Adas Israel synagogue—the oldest in the Washington, D.C., area—is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites, and the Historic American Buildings Survey. It is an Official Project of the Save America's Treasures program.

In 2019, the historic synagogue will be moved to the corner of Third and F Street, NW, where it will become the centerpiece of the new Capital Jewish Museum. During this time the historic synagogue is closed to visitors. . Learn more about our plans for the future here, or about our walking tours and other programming during this transition here. Call (202) 789-0900 or email info@jhsgw.org for more information.