B'er Chayim Temple
B'er Chayim Temple
B'er Chayim Temple, May 2008
|Location||Union and S. Centre Sts, Cumberland, Maryland|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Built by||Walton, John B.|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||79001106|
|Added to NRHP||November 15, 1979|
The B'er 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.
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 B'ere 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 congregaton built a two-story, Greek revival synagogue building on the corner of South Centre 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.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Mark Gordon, "Rediscovering Jewish Infrastructure: Update on United States Nineteenth Century Synagogues", American Jewish History 84.1 (1996) 11-27.
- B'er Chayim Temple, National Park Service
- "Maryland Historical Trust". National Register of Historic Places: Properties in Allegany County. Maryland Historical Trust. 2008-10-06.
- B'er Chayim Congregation website
- B'er Chayin Temple, Allegany County, including 1979 photo, at Maryland Historical Trust
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