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Ber Chayim Temple

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Ber Chayim Temple

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Basic Information

Location 39°39′2″N 78°45′38″W
Phone number (301) 722-5688
Country United States
City Cumberland, MD
Address 107 W Union St, Cumberland, MD

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website www.berchayim.org/
Geographical Coordinates 39.65065,-78.76035


Summary

The Ber Chayim Temple (Hebrew for Well of Life, a metaphor in which Torah is likened to water) in Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland, was built in 1866 for the local Jewish congregation. Originally Orthodox, it is now Reform. It is one of the oldest congregations in Maryland and its 1865 building is one of the oldest synagogue buildings in the United States.


History and time period

The first Jewish resident recorded in Cumberland dates to 1816. Twelve families were living in Cumberland, which then had a population of 6,150, in 1853 when congregation Ber Chayim was incorporated by the state legislature. The congregation was orthodox when the temple was built, although it is now a Reform congregation.

In 1865-67 the congregation built a two-story, Greek revival synagogue building on the corner of South Center and Union Streets. The facade is ornamented with four pilasters, a handsome pediment, and four very un-Greek Rundbogenstil, or round-arched, windows. The building was constructed by local builder John B. Walton. Prayers and sermons were originally held in German, rather than Hebrew.


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