This Congregation, familiarly known as Springhill Avenue Temple, was organized in Mobile on January 25, 1844. The State of Alabama formally granted a charter to this group under the name of Sha’arai Shomayim Umaskil el Dol, Gates of Heaven and Society of Friends of the Needy. The land for our Temple Cemetery, sacred unto itself, was secured by the early far-sighted leaders of our Congregation in March of 1876, following a brief period when members of our Congregation were buried in a special section of the Magnolia Cemetery.
Ours is, therefore, one of the very oldest Jewish Congregations in the United States and the oldest in the State of Alabama.
In its beginning stages, members met in private homes, prayed their prayers, and sang their hymns. On December 27, 1846, the St. Emanuel Street Temple was dedicated, and the infant congregation had its first house of worship.
The Congregation soon outgrew this structure. On March 10, 1853, a new synagogue, on Jackson Street, was dedicated and consecrated where the Jewish community of Mobile worshiped for fifty-four years. The tablets of the Ten Commandments from this structure can be seen today embedded in the west wall of the Pollock Auditorium.
In 1907, the Congregation dedicated a new edifice on the corner of Government and Warren Streets, in which it was destined to worship for almost half a century. Replicas of the stained glass windows from the Government Street Temple are exhibited on the west wall of the Pollock Auditorium. The foyer of the current Temple is graced by two menorahs (candelabras) which were on the pulpit of the Government Street structure.
Ground was broken for our present home on Springhill Avenue on February 21, 1954. The Temple was formally dedicated at religious services Friday evening, September 2, 1955. On that occasion, Rabbi Solomon E. Cherniak, spiritual leader of the Congregation, summed up the hopes and aspirations of those who had built the new Temple. “To God, to Israel, and to America we dedicate our new Temple. We pray that with thankful hearts we shall put to the fullest use our new Sanctuary and Religious School building. Here, may we, our children, and those who will follow us in the years to come, find a good and blessed life in the sight of the Lord.”
Since moving into our new home, our Congregation has continued to grow to its present size of almost two hundred fifty families with over eighty children in our Religious School. On November 19, 1999 we broke ground for our new chapel and addition. Our continuing growth has revealed to us ever-increasing possibilities for maintaining and deepening our commitments to God and the Jewish People.
Within the walls of our beautifully designed building, our congregants may truly enjoy worship, prayer, study, and assembly.