Temple Mishkan Israel at Selma, AL (built c. 1899, listed on the NRHP)

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This Jewish temple was completed during December 1899 and dedicated in February 1900. It is a two-story, Romanesque Revival structure with two symmetrical towers and a raised octagonal roofed sanctuary. The front of the building displays a Star of David stained glass window above the arched entry.

Jews were among the early settlers of Selma and they were vital to the economic growth of the city. Throughout the late 19th Century and most of the 20th Century, downtown Selma was dominated by Jewish merchants including Teppers, Kaysers, Liepolds, Rothchilds, Adler Furniture, Benish and Meyer Tobacco, Siegel Automobile Company, Barton’s Bargain Store, Bendersky’s and Eagles. They were also strongly represented in local government and city activities. Three Selma mayors were Jewish.

The Selma Jewish community has declined since World War II and only a small group of Jews remain in Selma. Today, only special services are held at this Jewish synagogue. There is an effort to preserve the structure and perhaps create a museum honoring Selma’s Jewish heritage.

This building is a contributing property to Selma’s “Old Town Historic District” that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). It is located at 503 Broad Street near downtown Selma (GPS coordinates 32.412211,-87.022873).

Sources: 1) selmapilgrimage.com; 2) NRHP “Old Town Historic District” Registration Form.


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