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Countdown to Savannah: The Grand Synagogue of Savannah

Written by teaberry

In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.

With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.

Mickve Israel Founded in 1733

The first synagogue of Savannah was founded in 1733 by 43 Jews, mostly of Portuguese origin, who had just arrived in Georgia. They called their congregation Mickve Israel, which means Hope of Israel, and today it stands as the third oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Two of its founders, Abraham Minis and Benjamin Sheftall, still have descendants who are active participants in the congregation today.

The Jewish congregation at its inception held its services in various membersí homes, and eventually moved to a more permanent location at Liberty and Whitaker Streets. After a wave of German Jewish immigration in the mid 1800s, the congregation needed to move to larger quarters. A new location was found on Monterey Square, and a new structure was built, and this is where Mickve Israel is proudly perched today. The magnificent synagogue was designed by a world-renowned architect named Henry G. Harrison, in pure neo-Gothic style of the Victorian era.

In July 2008, this congregation will celebrate its 275th anniversary since its establishment and the arrival of the first Jewish settlers to Georgia.

Tours of the sanctuary are offered during the week from 10am to 1pm and then from 2pm to 4pm. They last about 30-45 minutes, at a donation of $3. Services are held every Saturday morning at 11am. This is a Reform congregation.

If you would like to find out more information about the first Jewish synagogue in Savannah, read more at this site:

http://www.mickveisrael.org/index.htm

Photo of Mickve Israel Synagogue

Mickve Israel (Hope of Israel)

Resources

All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)


Author: teaberry is a nurse anesthetist who enjoys hiking, gardening, family, traveling, reading, playing piano, art, cooking, and anthropology - not necessarily in that order.


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