B'er Chayim Temple

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B'er Chayim Temple
Congregation B'er Chayim.jpg
B'er Chayim Temple, May 2008
B'er Chayim Temple is located in Maryland
B'er Chayim Temple
Location Union and South Centre Streets, Cumberland, Maryland, United States
Coordinates 39°39′2″N 78°45′38″W / 39.65056°N 78.76056°W / 39.65056; -78.76056Coordinates: 39°39′2″N 78°45′38″W / 39.65056°N 78.76056°W / 39.65056; -78.76056
Area Less than one acre
Built 1866 (148 years ago) (1866)
Built by John B. Walton
Architectural style Greek Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 79001106[1]
Added to NRHP November 15, 1979 (34 years ago) (1979-11-15)

The B'er Chayim Temple (Hebrew for Well of Life, a metaphor in which Torah is likened to water) is a synagogue in the American city of Cumberland, Maryland.

It was built in 1866 for the local Jewish congregation. Originally an Orthodox congregation, it is now a Reform congregation. It is one of the oldest congregations in Maryland and its 1865 building is one of the oldest synagogue buildings in the United States.[2]


The first Jewish resident recorded in Cumberland dates to 1816. Twelve Jewish 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,[3] although it is now a Reform congregation.

Between 1865 and 1867, the congregation 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.[3] The building was constructed by local builder John B. Walton.

Prayers and sermons were originally held in German, rather than Hebrew.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ (registration required) Gordon, Mark (1996). "Rediscovering Jewish Infrastructure: Update on United States Nineteenth Century Synagogues". American Jewish History. 84.1. pp. 11–27.
  3. ^ a b Staff (undated). "B'er Chayim Temple". National Park Service. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Staff (undated). "B'er Chayim Temple". National Register of Historic Places: Properties in Allegany County. Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 

External links[edit]