Congregation Sha'aray Israel

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A Conservative Jewish Congregation serving the spiritual needs of the Middle Georgia Jewish community since 1904

Synagogue History

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In the beginning, it was a dream - just a dream to transmit to their children and their children's children, the heritage of generations, as all Jews have done from time immemorial but as Herzl said, 'if you will it, it is no dream.' And so, on November 10, 1904, fifty-four men petitioned WH. Felton, Jr., Bibb County Superior Court Judge, and were granted a charter incorporating Congregation Sha'arey Israel.

Initially, services were held in rented halls, until a large two-story house on the comer of Oak and Third Streets was purchased for $5,000. Used for services and classes, it also housed the Rabbi and his family. In those early years, the City of Macon gave the congregation the land on Rose Hill for a burial ground. That land is the old part of our present cemetery. The oldest tombstone there is dated 1902. Rabbi Charles Glyck was here during most of the early years, serving our congregation intermittently until his death in 1923.

In 1919 the property on the comer of Plum and First Streets was purchased for $7,000 for the purpose of building a synagogue. Beginning with a fund of $6,000, the forty members of the congregation raised $23,000 among themselves.

The building was completed in 1922, and on June 4th of that year a dedication ceremony was held. The officers of the congregation were: Hyman Marshall, president, Emanuel Gordon, vice-president, Harry Gordon, secretary, and Adolph Phaul, treasurer. Members of the Board of Governors were: Bernhardt Goldgar, L.E. Schwartz, H. D. Kaplan, Louis Snyder, and Jake Backer.

In the same year the women of the congregation officially formed the Ladies Auxiliary at the home of Mrs. H.D. Kaplan. The first president was Mrs. B.M. Goldgar. Throughout the history of the congregation, the Ladies Auxiliary played a most active role in financial and spiritual affairs.

From 1922 to 1947 the congregation grew rapidly and religious school enrollment increased. Yet, there were many times that we were without the services of a rabbi. The first bulletin was published by the Congregation in October of 1940. An adult Bible class, conducted entirely in Yiddish, was held. During the war years servicemen stationed here were entertained and public Seders were held by the Ladies Auxiliary. The Auxiliary also adopted two French war orphans and gave them aid until 1950.

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