Won’t Run and I were wandering around Savannah, walking through the pretty squares, looking at the statues and historic homes and landmarks, when we found ourselves at Congregation Mickve Israel the third oldest Jewish Congregation in the United States. Although I am not religious, when traveling, I enjoy walking into houses of worship, and feeling the history, the aura and the spiritual connection. According to the website:
Congregation Mickve Israel has a long and storied history, dating back to 1733, just a few months after the founding of the City of Savannah. 42 intrepid Jews set sail from England aboard The William and Sarah with little more than their beloved Torah (which the Congregation still uses annually in our anniversary Shabbat service) and a special kit for circumcision. They arrived in Savannah, a border colony town with an innovative vision for religious tolerance, to start their lives anew in a land of freedom.
These brave settlers went on to found Kahal Kadosh Mickva Israel: Holy Congregation, the Hope of Israel. Through war, plagues, and struggles, the Congregation survived, even thrived. Today, we have over 350 member families, an active schedule of services and activities, and a place of involvement in our community and in the world at large. We like to think that our ancestors would be extremely proud of the remarkable legacy they started in Savannah over 280 years ago.
We were welcomed in and asked if we wanted to walk around on our own or wait for a tour. We chose to walk on our own. This is a working temple that opens its doors to tourists. It wants to share its history. While neither Won’t Run nor I are religious, and generally don’t go to temple except for weddings and bar mitzvahs, we were each moved by this synagogue. Won’t Run had learned of a friend’s death while we were away on this trip, and he felt badly that he hadn’t been able to make it to the funeral. He took some time by himself to say some prayers and say farewell to his friend.
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