Temple Beth Israel dedicates historical marker

German immigrants established Temple Beth Israel in 1859. The building it's in now was built in 1902.
Historical marker
Temple Beth Israel's historical marker sits outside its building on Cherry street.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) —  German immigrants established Temple Beth Israel in 1859. The building it’s in now was built in 1902.

According to Lawrence Mink, Immediate Past President for the temple, they decided to put up a historical marker two years ago.

“A lot of people walk by the building and don’t know what it is,” Mink said. “So we said why don’t we find a marker, a historical marker? So this gentleman in Florida named Jerry Klinger with the Jewish American Society said, ‘We’ll put it up for you.'”

Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar joined the congregation in July 0f 2020.

She says the temple had several different locations along Cherry street before settling in the building it’s in now. She says the historical marker will help people understand who they are and their contributions to the community.

“The Jewish community in Macon goes all the way back to when they wore hoop skirts and beaver hats,” she said. “It’s been here as a positive presence for quite some time, helping when Macon was established as a place for immigrants, really ensuring there was a tremendous amount of capacity for people to not just adjust themselves to a manufacturing economy but also adjusting themselves to an agrarian economy.”

The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation donated the marker.

Mink says the temple is the oldest Jewish temple in middle Georgia. He hopes the marker will educate people about the temple’s history.

“Personally it’s important to me as a member,” Mink said. “I won’t be here forever, but I’ll be able to say we put that monument out front so future generations, they’ll be driving by and they’ll say, ‘Lets stop and find out what that’s all about.'”

Rabbi Bahar hopes the temple can continue to honor their past while embracing the future. She says there’s value in joining a sacred community.

“Sometimes I think that our souls can find ourselves in an arid environment,” she said. “And finding ourselves back in a sacred space can nourish and water our parched souls.”

The marker was actually placed where it is now about two years ago, but the pandemic delayed the dedication ceremony. You can visit the marker outside Temple Beth Israel at the corner of Cherry and Spring Streets.

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