SAVANNAH (GA) – Six months after James Oglethorpe landed in Savannah the first boat of refugee Jews arrived. This weekend the Mickve Israel congregation celebrates that voyage and its more than two century old heritage here in Savannah.
Coming to the hostess city many visitors have to take in so much history, with a new look to its museum, the Mickve congregation is proud to showcase its history that dates back to the very beginning of the Savannah colony.
“They came here to start this great journey that we have been on for the last 282 years,” says congregation VP Bubba Rosenthal.
It marks a weekend of celebration and remembrance for the Jewish community in Savannah.
“This is a highlight of our year and two hundred and eighty two years is very exciting and we continue to thrive,” says Museum Task Force member and former congregation president Toby Hollenberg.
With a Saturday Sabbath service, members of the Mickve Israel congregation celebrate the day their ancestors arrived on the William and Sarah making a new life here in Georgia.
This service follows a week long series of events honoring Jewish history with the congregation’s renovating of their museum.
“We have 8 to 10,000 visitors a year, from all countries, from all walks of life, from all religious traditions we’re just so fortunate to be able to share our history and the history of the Jewish people in Savannah,” says Hollenberg.
A history of public and commercial influence, but not without tragedy and hard times.
“We had a fire in 1927, that destroyed some of our historic synagogue not the congregation, the congregation has been here, has been here since the beginning and of course it was rebuilt and our torahs our historic torahs were all saved,” says Rosenthal.
The museum is home to artifacts and stories from 1733 to present day.
It houses one of the oldest artifacts in the nation with this 15th century Torah that is read each year on this anniversary. It has a new look but houses the same history that for congregation VP Bubba Rosenthal it marks the unity of Savannah’s Jewish community from past to present and onward.
“It shows our perseverance, what we’re made of, we’ve been here in the past, the now and we’ll be here in the future.”
The museum is open and free to the public with tours held Monday through Friday between 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.