Temple History


1735 Augusta was founded
1802 First “Israelite”, Isaac Hendricks, came to Augusta
1825 The Florence Family and Issac and Jacob Moishe arrived.
1845 Several German Jewish families arrived, forming a religious school
1846 The “B’nai Israel” (Children of Israel) Hebrew Society was formed, electing Mr. John J. Cohen as its first president. The society held high holiday services in 1846. Although it considered itself Orthodox, services were in both Hebrew and English with a mixed Portuguese and Ashkenazi flavor. A mixed choir sang. There were twenty charter members, fifteen from Augusta and five from Hamburg, South Carolina. . About a dozen students attended religious school. Augusta City officials presented a section of Magnolia Cemetery to the society
1847 Issac Henry fitted out a building for the society to use. This building was used until 1852. Isaac Hendricks, Augusta’s first Jewish citizen, died and was the first Jew to be buried in a section of the Augusta City Cemetery designated for the Jewish community.
1849 In June, a charter of incorporation is made.
1851 The society hires its first Rabbi and spiritual leader, Reverend Mr. Marcassohm who later left and converted to Christianity.
1852 The congregation leases its first “permanent” building at Greene and Jackson Streets
1860-1865 Four congregants died in the Civil War. Captain Rush and the Levy Brothers were buried in Magnolia Cemetery. Mrs. John J Cohen was described as a “Ministering Angel” during the war
1869 Work began on the Telfair Street Temple with the laying of the cornerstone. Reverend Issac M Wise travelled to Augusta to address the gathering. Members of all denominations participated. It cost $1500 to build Obadiah Lodge No 119 of B’nai B’rith.
1870 The Telfair Street Temple was completed and the congregation was using the Jastrow Prayer Book. The congregation was now considered Reform. The Telfair Street building was used through 1950.
1873 The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) was formed. Congregation Children of Israel was its fourth member.
1880-1890 Many Jews from Russia and Poland arrived in Augusta. In 1890 Augusta’s Orthodox Congregation, Adas Yeshuron, was formed
1888-1898 Most Temple records were lost in the 1888 flood
1914-1918 Many Congregants fought in WWI
1935 YMHA was formed and a building erected on Greene Street. Half of the original cost of $5000 was borne by Augustans of many faiths. David Slusky was honorary chairman and N Nathan Jolles was its first President. The YMHA. used as a Jewish USO during WWII
1936 Bella Barr Slusky dies and a memorial fund is established in her honor.
1939 43 were children enrolled in the Religious School
1941-1947 The Congregation had 65 families. Rabbi Schwartzman published a home holiday bulletin to “stimulate Jewish observance in Your home.”
1941-1945 Jewish soldiers at Camp Gordon outnumbered congregants and Rabbi Schwartzman filled in as Jewish Chaplain at the Camp for most of the war. 43 members of the Congregation served in the Armed Forces. Lt. Herman Brown, Jr. was killed in action.
1942 Lee Blum became the first Augustan Jew to win Scouting Silver Beaver Award. Five of six Simowitz brothers run five businesses in Augusta. A Sisterhood Golden Jubilee was held.
1943 Howard Jolles became the first Bar Mitzvah of the modern era of the Temple.
1944 Rabbi Schwartzman urged a building fund to build a new Temple because the Telfair Street facility could not hold all the activity of the Congregation, especially the religious school. $12,000 in pledges and $11,000 in immediate collections were received. $50,000 was set as goal
1944 Abe Friedman initiates the monthly meeting of the Temple board and starts the archiving of the minutes.
1945 Lee Blum becomes first Augustan Jew to win Scouting Silver Beaver Award. Five of six Simowitz brothers run five business in Augusta. A Sisterhood Golden Jubilee held.
1946 Five families pledged $26,000 to the building fund if the balance of the congregation pledged $25,000 (Moshe Slusky, Abe Friedman, I.D. Shapiro, Lee Blum, and Leon Simon)
1946 The Board was increased to 18 people. There were 105 members. A Building plans committee was formed with Mose Slusky as chairman and Abe Friedman and Clarence Cohen as members. On Sept 8th the congregation voted to buy the lot on the corner of Walton Way and Bransford Road.
1948 Temple membership was up to 98 families, The Board voted to purchase a Torah to be sent to a struggling European Congregation.
1949 Sisterhood sent a letter to the Board demanding the beginning of the construction of the Walton Way religious school facility.
1950 Ground was broken for the new Walton Way Temple on June 14. The Telfair Street facility was sold but the new Temple was not ready. For six months the Congregation was invited to meet at the Hill Methodist Church. The symbols of both congregations stayed on the alter for the entire six month period. Rabbi Goldburg set a standard of ministering to hospital patients of all religions.
1951 On November 16 the new Walton Way Temple was dedicated. Abe Friedman was chair of Building Committee and Harry Steine was chair of dedication service. An invocation was given by Rev. J. Hambry Barton, Pastor of Trinity Hill Methodist Church. Rabbis Starrells, Glasner and Schwartzman took part. Rabbi Goldburg participated in the dedication of two new sanctuaries while Rabbi
1952 A volunteer choir was formed and participated in Friday Services dressed in choir robes.
1953 Harry Jacobs was engaged as Choir Director and served for 15 years. The Ark and Pulpit from the Telfair Street Temple were given to the Jewish Chapel at Fort Gordon.
1954 The Constitution was amended to create a three man Historic Commission. The Corner Stone from the Telfair Street temple was moved to the Walton Way facility but the 1869 papers had all disintegrated.
1955 The Congregation enrolled 15 new families for a total of 142. This number included several Jews by Choice.
1956 Air-conditioning was installed and the social hall was enlarged.
1963 103 children were enrolled in the Temple Religious School which had 10 teachers. Religious school students adopted a poor child from another country
1964 The Board decided that a new sanctuary, social hall and kitchen were needed to keep up with the growth of the Congregation. $150,000 was set up as a goal for the addition which was not to exceed $250,000. The Temple Youth Group was formed.
1965 Abe Friedman was made Building Fund Chairman and Bernard Simowitz named Chairman of the Building Committee
1966 A donation to the building fund was received from the First Baptist Church of Augusta. Abe Korn made a donation to the Temple Youth Group that helped programming for a number of years.
1967 In March the new Temple Sanctuary, social hall, and kitchen were dedicated. The final cost was $225,000 and the dedication service was attended by many Inter-faith Clergymen, Mayor Sancken and a telegram was received from former Gov Carl Sanders. The dedication address was given by Dr. Ariel Goldburg, Rabbi Goldburg’s brother. On March 18 there was a dedication service for the Temple Youth Group and children attending the religious school which had 100 children.
1967 A donation to the Temple Building Fund was received from the Unitarian Church.
1968 Rabbi Goldburg retired after 19 years.
1969 The Randy Shapiro Memorial Fund was established. The.Temple Youth Group was formed again, and the religious school had 82 students. Pesident Isaac Jolles sent a scathing letter to Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath regarding the Rabbi’s views on the Vietnam War.
1970 Jackie Wetherthorn was appointed “Temple Coordinator of Administration”
1971 The Temple Youth Group was given a non-voting chair on the Temple Board.
1971-1984 Rabbi White requests the Board purchase 25 “Gates of Prayer” books. These were the first new prayer books since 1922
1972 The Constitution was amended to include as voting members representatives from the Brotherhood, Sisterthood, and Temple Youth Group. Rabbi White suggested the immediate purchase of a Holocaust Torah. Funds were raised and the Torah was dedicated in April 1973. Adam Korn passed away. 75 students were in the religious school.
1975 The Religious School was renamed in honor of Bart D. Wittenberg. 160 families belonged to the Temple
1976 55 students were in religious school
1978 The Congregation opened a new Cemetary Plot at Hillcrest Memorial Park.
1981 Abe Friedman was given a testimonial service.
1982 Land was purchased across Martin Lane from the Temple for a supplemental parking lot.
1990 Temple membership reached its peak of 225 families and individuals and the religious school census reached 140 children.
1993 Rabbi Emeritus Norman Goldburg died
1995 Programs were held such as outreach, Tot Shabbat, and Caring Congregation aiding the sick and dying.
1995 The Temple celebrated its 150th anniversary. The Small Congregations Conference was held in Augusta for the first time, with over 350 representatives from 200 congregations in the United States and Canada.
1996 Machon Hebrew High School was formed
1997 The Temple T’s program was started. The first annual Jewish Festival was held. There was a Congregational Trip to Israel and an interfaith program, “A Taste of Judaism – Are You Curious”, The Temple Choir performed in Savannah, WWII veterans were honored
2002-2004 Roof repairs were performed at a cost of $180,000 . Michael Friedman passed and bequested a large sum to the Temple.
2004-2005 Suzanne Shapiro, Temple Secretary and member was honored for 25 years of service to the Temple.
2005 The Temple holds its first Congregational Retreat. Over 80 members gathered for a weekend of prayer and fellowship at Hickory Knob Park on Strom Thurmond Lake as part of the 160th anniversary.
2006 A Presidents’ Ball honored all past and present Temple presidents and Rabbis.