|What We Do|
|How We Pray|
|How We Learn|
|Facts About Reform Judaism|
Our programming schedule is one of the most extensive of any smaller congregation in the country! Among our offerings are the following:
Central to Congregation Children of Israel is Shabbat worship. We have a family service on the first Friday of each month at 6:00 PM followed by a Congregational Shabbat dinner. Otherwise, our Friday night Shabbat services begin at 7:30 PM. During the summer our services begin at 6:15 PM. We use Mishkan Tifilah as our Shabbat prayerbook. As music plays an important part in our services, we have a part time Cantorial Soloist as well as pianist. Our volunteer choir participates in our services once a month. We also have brief Shabbat morning services, followed by Torah study. Once a month we have a Congregational Havdalah service.
Tot Shabbat, designed for our youngest congregants and their families, is held one Saturday morning each month. The High Holy Days are a special time in our congregational life. We pray from Gates of Repentance on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In addition to regular services, we offer children’s services.
We celebrate the holidays of our people with great enthusiasm. We hold an annual Sukkot service and picnic, dance with the Torahs on Simchat Torah, cook latkes for Chanukah, celebrate Purim (some years with both a children’s service and an “adults only” celebration), and hold a community Seder for Passover.
The cornerstone of our activities is a life-long educational program. Our Bart D. Wittenberg Religious School includes the Augusta Jewish Community Sunday School (AJCSS) and our Wednesday Hebrew classes. The AJCSS is a combined effort of the Temple and Adas Yeshurun Synagogue and spans kindergarten to seventh grade. The Rabbi meets regularly with our teenagers to continue their Jewish education. Bar/Bat Mitzvah training is available to all boys and girls. Confirmation is held at the end of 10th grade. We also boast a fine adult education program, including the following:
- Introduction to Judaism
- Adult Hebrew
- Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah
- Bible Study
- Conversion Program
- Luncheons, brunches and speakers
Congregation Children of Israel is a vibrant and exciting center of Jewish life, a place where you can feel welcome. To join us in our mission, please call the Temple Office at (706) 736-3140, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact any of the Temple officers . And please feel free to come by and visit or join us for Shabbat services. We offer various membership categories and will not allow financial obstacles to membership.
In 1802, the first recorded member of the Augusta Jewish community, Issac Hendricks, arrived from Charleston, South Carolina to trade hides and furs with the Native Americans. His death and burial in 1847 marked the opening of the Jewish section of Magnolia Cemetery, owned and operated by the city.
By 1845 the Jewish community in the Central Savannah River Area had expanded to approximately 20 people who felt the need to form a religious School. This was the core of what became Congregation B’Nai Israel, The Children of Israel in 1846. Tishah Be-Av and High Holy Day services were held that year in a rented room with temporary ark, and in 1849 the congregation was granted a corporate charter.
After a growth spurt to 44, Temple members decided to construct a house of worship on Telfair Street in 1869. Construction contributions came from both Jews and non-Jews in a cooperative effort. When the building’s cornerstone was laid, the mayor, city council members, Masons and other prominent Augustans participated in the festivities. Rabbi Issac Mayer Wise, the principle architect of American Reform Judaism, delivered the keynote address. The Telfair Street Temple was completed in 1870, and in 1873 it became the third affiliate of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations founded by Rabbi Wise.
Congregation women established the Hebrew Ladies Aid Society in 1879. In 1919, the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods was created. The Society joined and became the Sisterhood. On February 11, 1942 the Sisterhood commemorated its Golden Jubilee with a black tie affair at the Bon Air Hotel. The Temple Brotherhood was born in the 1920’s. The Sisterhood and Brotherhood have been vital components of our social, educational, and civic life ever since.
Congregation Children of Israel held its 100th anniversary in 1945. At the time of the centennial, Temple members numbered 190, and it was clear that the Telfair Street edifice was not large enough. A building fund was started, and in 1946 a site was selected at the corner of Bransford Road and Walton Way. However, before the new Temple was finished, the old one had to be vacated. For six months services were conducted at Trinity-On-The-Hill Methodist Church where both Jewish and Christian symbols were displayed on the altar in a show of interfaith solidarity. The new building was dedicated on November 16, 1951.
In September 1949, Rabbi Norman Goldburg, his wife Rose, and their two children were welcomed to Augusta. Rabbi Goldburg guided our congregation longer than any other spiritual leader. He retired in 1968.
By 1964 the congregation was experiencing growing pains again, so members voted to erect a new sanctuary, social hall, and kitchen at the Walton Way location. This building was dedicated on the weekend of March 17th, 1967. To honor Rabbi Goldburg’s 90th birthday, the upstairs sanctuary, stage, library, and foyer in the Bart D. Wittenberg Religous School building were renovated in 1992.
Jordan M. Parr served as the congregation’s 29th Rabbi from 1990 until 2002. Rabbi Parr and his wife, Cynthia, were instrumental in fostering family involvement, instituting Tot Shabbat, overseeing the renovation of the Judaica Shop and initiating many community outreach programs such as the Interfaith Mitzvah Day Project, the Golden Harvest Food Bank Drive, and the Caring Congregation to aid the sick.
In January 1995, we commemorated the continuity of our congregation with a Sesquicentennial Weekend. At the midpoint of our birthday year, The Union of American Hebrew Congregation Small Congregations Conference was held in Augusta for the first time, bringing hundreds of people from the US and Canada together for an outstanding event.
As we look towards our next years. decades, and centuries of Jewish life in Augusta, our future is bright indeed. Our congregation is a model for smaller congregations across the country and a beacon of light for Jews everywhere. We are proud to be part of the religious life of Augusta, whose fertile soil allows people of all faiths to worship freely.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for all to dwell together in unity.
For more details on our Temple history, please refer to Jack Steinberg’s United for Charity and Worship available at the Judaica Collection at the Temple.
Augusta has a long and proud Jewish history and the same can be said of, Congregation Children of Israel, the Walton Way Temple founded in 1845. While many of our members can trace their ancestry to the original founding families, many more of our members have recently come to Augusta. We work as doctors, engineers, professors, soldiers, and business men and women. The Augusta Jewish Community boasts two congregations, a Jewish Community Center, and several chapters of national Jewish organizations.
Reform on the Rise: The Reform movement has an affiliated Temple in every state and in Canada, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and even in Israel.
Below are some facts detailing the Reform movement’s growth over the last 125 years:
- 1873: 56 congregations, 2,700 families
- 1920: 222 congregations, 31,000 families
- 1955: 505 congregations, 170,000 families
- 1983: 773 congregations, 269,000 families
- 1997: 869 congregations, 300,000 families