During the “Arts In The Heart” Festival, the Jewish Federation is raising money to turn a former synagogue into a museum.
In the heart of downtown Augusta lies the oldest synagogue in the state of Georgia.
President of the Augusta Jewish Museum, Jack Weinstein, says, “Augusta has a lot of historic buildings that have been torn over the years and i think it’s important that we continue saving anything we possibly can. Once they’re gone, there is nothing else left.”
It was built in 1869 making it one of the ten oldest Jewish buildings in the united states.
“There are about 2 buildings they gave to us in 2015. They were going to tear down both buildings, for a parking lot at the Richmond County building,” says Weinstein.
The two buildings are the court of ordinary, which was the first fire proof building in the state of Georgia and the synagogue.
“They decided to give us both buildings as long as they had something operational there by 2021,” says Weinstein.
With a deadline of potential demolition, the Jewish Federation started raising money in phases. They hope to open phase one before the deadline, so they can expand to phase two.
“Phase one is to get the museum open as quickly as we can, we need about $300,000 to do that. Phase two will be actual reconstruction of the temple itself, which probably is a two and a half million-dollar project, and that project will be taken once we already got the museum open in phase one,” says Weinstein.
With over 150 years of history, pieces such as Torah’s from synagogues that have closed will be displayed in the main room.
“The top of the building will set up exactly like a temple really is but it won’t be used for religious facilities,” says Weinstein.
Weinstein says it’s important to keep the history of the Jewish community alive not just locally but around the world.
“A lot of synagogues are having problems today, and I think if we don’t save something like this it will just be history,” says Weinstein.