In 1802, the first Jewish family to settle in Augusta was the Hendricks family of Charleston, South Carolina. Members of this family continue to live in Augusta today. The Florence family and Isaac and Jacob Moise families moved here in 1825 and in 1845, several German Jewish families arrived. All of the aforementioned families came together to form the Augusta, GA and Hamburg, SC Jewish community.
A Sunday School was started in 1845, taught by the daughters of Isaac Hendricks and Jacob Moise. By 1846, the B'nai Israel (Children of Israel) Hebrew Society was formed with twenty charter member families, fifteen from Augusta and five from Hamburg. About a dozen students attended the religious school and that same year, the Augusta City officials presented a section of Magnolia Cemetery to the society.
In 1847, Isaac Henry, a local banker, fitted out a building for the Congregation to use as a gathering place to learn and worship and it was used as the Synagogue until 1852. That year, the congregation leased the building at the corner of Greene and Jackson Streets and utilized that location for 17 years. The YMHA was founded in 1855.
Every able-bodied man served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Four of the congregants gave their lives for this cause. Two of those killed were brothers, sons of Sheriff Isaac Levy. Captain Rush and the Levy Brothers are buried in Magnolia Cemetery.
In 1869, the Congregation Children of Israel began the construction of the Telfair Street Temple. The cornerstone was laid by American Reform Founder Rev. Isaac M. Wise, who spoke to a large gathering after a parade that included both Jewish and city officials. That year, the local chapter of B'nai B'rith was formed.
In 1879, the Hebrew Ladies Aid Society, later Sisterhood, was founded at B'nai Israel and Adas Yeshurun Synagogue was founded in 1891. In the early 1950s, both Congregation Children of Israel and Augusta Adas Yeshurun Synagogue moved from downtown Augusta to their current locations. In recent years Chabad opened a Chabad House in 1996. The Aiken, SC permanent Jewish community dates back to 1890 and the Classical Revival Aiken Adath Yeshurun Synagogue was built in 1925.
For more historical information about Jews in the CSRA please visit: