Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Temple Mishkan Israel
When Selma had a much larger Jewish population, Temple Mishkan Israel regularly served as the place of worship. Built in 1899, the synagogue is primarily used for special services now.
The Jewish presence began growing here in the 1830s. Many came from Western Europe, some to work in early industrialist Phillip John Weaver's 11 businesses or to begin businesses themselves. Others came as merchants, traveling the Alabama River from Mobile to Selma. Through World War II, downtown Selma was dominated by Jewish businesses: Rothschild's, Kayser's, Teppers, Bendersky's, Eagle's, Boston Bargain, Barton's, Adler Furniture, Siegel Automobile, Bloch Brothers Hardware, Schuster Hardware, Hohenberg Cotton Company, Kahn Brick, Lewis Cigar, American Candy.
They were civic-minded as well. Selma has had three Jewish mayors, several city council presidents, chamber of commerce presidents and others. During World War II, refugees from Europe were sponsored by local people.