Editor's note: This is the 182nd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - In 1872, Samuel Gideon and his wife Dora moved to Huntington from Cincinnati, becoming the first recorded members of the Jewish faith to settle in the young town. As other Jewish families settled in Huntington they formed a religious/social organization called the Almonia Social Club.
In 1887, a group of 20 families organized the Ohev Sholom congregation, which followed the reformed ritual. They first built a temple at 5th Avenue and 10th Street and then, when they outgrew that building, erected an impressive domed temple at 10th Avenue and 10th Street.
As early as 1883 a small group of Huntington Jews attempted to organize an orthodox congregation, but their effort did not take definite shape until 1910 when the B'nai Israel congregation was established. The little congregation held its first services in Mickel's Hall on 3rd Avenue. Later they worshipped at the Odd Fellows Hall and still later in rooms over the Fountain Drug and the Union Bank and Trust Co.
Determined to have a permanent house of worship, the congregation purchased a corner lot at 900 9th St. and there, in 1924, built a handsome synagogue, designed by prominent Huntington architect Levi Dean.
For generations the children of Jewish families grew up in the two congregations and many went on to build their lives and careers here. But in the 1960s and 1970s, many of their young friends chose to leave Huntington. As a result, both congregations dwindled in size. In the early 1970s, neither had a permanent rabbi. The two began discussing a merger. The result was the 1974 formation of a merged congregation with a new name, B'nai Sholom.
For several years after the merger, services alternated between the two facilities. But ultimately all activities were consolidated at the temple on 10th Avenue and the synagogue on 9th Street was sold. Today, the former synagogue is home to Bethel Temple Assembly of God.
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