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Friday, March 30, 2012

Three Beautiful West Virginia Synagogues

A quick posting of photographs of three historic West Virginia Jewish Congregations. While the state's Jewish Community is small in size, there are active and historic Jewish congregations. Here are just three from Charleston and Wheeling. Temple Shalom in Wheeling is the oldest Jewish congregation in the state having been established in 1849. Formed as Congregation L'Shem Shomayim, the present congregation resulted from a merger of the Synagogue of Israel (Conservative) and L'Shem Shomayim (Reform). Known today as Temple Shalom, the congregation has been located in their beautiful Mid-Century Modern synagogue on Bethany Pike since the late 1950's. It is the only domed synagogue in West Virginia. It is beautifully maintained and has wonderful stained glass windows.

Photos by Julian H. Preisler 2009

Temple Israel (Congregation B'nai Israel) in Charleston was formally chartered in 1873 though it was informally organized in 1856. It is the largest Reform congregation in the state and located just steps from the Capitol building on Kanawha Boulevard. The present Mid-Century Modern temple was dedicated in 1960 and is an imposing structure. There is a large main sanctuary, library, school and auditorium. The small chapel contains artifacts from the old Virginia Street Temple building and the synagogue lobby contains stained glass from the old temple. You can learn more about the congregation at

Photo by Julian H. Preisler 2009

B'nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston is the largest Jewish congregation in West Virginia and also the only "traditional" synagogue to be found in the state today. It was established in 1894 as an Orthodox congregation. Located near the Capitol building, the large synagogue complex contains a very spacious sanctuary, daily chapel, library, gymnasium, school building and also an extensive congregation archives and memorabilia room. Built in 1950, the synagogue was designed in a more restrained Mid-Century Modern style compared to that of Temple Israel and Temple Shalom. The stained glass windows on the facade of the synagogue are known throughout the area for their dramatic beauty. It is a very active congregation along with Temple Israel in Charleston. For more information please see:

Photos by Julian H. Preisler 2009

For more information on the synagogues of West Virginia, Jewish history in the state and vintage images please see my book: "Jewish West Virginia" published by Arcadia Publishing