On November 2, 1856, fourteen pioneering Jewish men gathered at the home of Julius Glaser, a native of Würzburg, Germany, and founded a congregation with a clearly established constitution and set of by-laws in a community where only seven years earlier there were no Jewish settlers living, making it one of the oldest Jewish synagogues in Indiana. Just two years later, on Tuesday, October 26, 1858, a dedication was held for the congregation’s first consecrated home “in Judah’s Block (East Washington Street), opposite the Court House.

Within a year of its founding, the congregation purchased a burial ground property (Kelly Street Cemetery) on the south side of Indianapolis which remains in use to this day. The synagogue’s congregation has always taken a strong stand against slavery, and also supported the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The congregation moved into a new home in 1958, and the old building on 975 North Delaware Street became the home of The People’s Temple run by cult leader Jim Jones.

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