Metro   City

Temple Beth Or

Thank You! Your rating has been saved.

Temple Beth Or had its beginnings just 32 years after Alabama was organized as a territory and barely nine years before the War Between the States began. From a small group of committed Jews came this dream of a congregation, an organization that would provide unbridled freedom for religious expression, to be not only Jews but to be Jewish. This congregation has survived and prospered through national and international conflict, agricultural boom, financial failures, droughts and prosperity and prides itself on its past history and its dedication to the future.

There were only a few Jews in Montgomery in 1846 who, recognizing the need for some means of caring for the sick and needy, organized Chevra Mevacher Cholim, a Sick and Burial Society. Its primary purpose was to minister to the sick and to watch over and bury the dead. Each member took turns performing these acts of mercy and in seeing that Jewish customs were properly observed. This group also held religious services on Friday evenings, Saturday mornings and High Holy Days. Services in the mid 19th century were Orthodox. Men and women sat apart. Men covered their heads and wore tefillin (small leather cases containing texts from the Hebrew Scriptures traditionally worn on the forehead and the left arm by Jewish men during morning prayer). High Holy Days services were not only attended by Jewish members of Montgomery, but by Christian neighbors as well. People came from as far as Selma and Tuskegee to observe the religious rites and learn more about their Jewish brethern. This friendly relationship between Jews and non-Jews continues to be a source of pride for Montgomerians.

In 1852, although still very few in number, our founders
saw the need to strengthen their Judaism and formally formed a congregation, Kahl Montgomery. With the help of a bequest of $2,000 they purchased land and in 1862 completed a temple later named Beth Or, House of Light. Located in downtown Montgomery on the corner of Church and Catoma Streets, it is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and still stands today serving as a church. In a most joyful celebration of its roots, the congregation worshiped there during its Sesquicentennial Celebration in the Spring of 2002.

By 1870, the congregation had grown considerably. Ritual changes continued to occur. Men and women no longer sat in separate sections. In 1874, with great vision and foresight, and even greater debate, the congregation adopted a Reform ritual and modeled it after Temple Emanu??'El of New York. The challenge and magnitude of this undertaking faced more than 100 years ago is difficult to fully comprehend. This change required both courage and sacrifice by our founders to meet the challenges of their time. The dedication and commitment they gave to Kahl Montgomery still exists in today's members, many of whom are descendants of the founders.

Explore Related Categories

Details and Specs

Hours of Operation: Not Listed
Notes: None Listed


Be the first to add a review for this item.

Please write a review for this item

Send a Message