The Temple At 150


The Temple At 150

Not long after the Civil War, a handful of families formed what would become the oldest Jewish congregation in the city. Now, 150 years later, Atlanta looks back at the history of The Temple. 

The Beginning

In 1867, a number of Jewish families in Atlanta gathered for a wedding, and from that came the origins of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, better known to Atlantans as The Temple. 

The Leo Frank Case

In 1913, the Leo Frank lynching and Mary Phagan murder had a lasting impact on The Temple and Atlanta Jewish community.

The Temple Bombing Q&A Salon

The event that shook Atlanta from Peachtree Street to Auburn Avenue. And changed the city forever. - Alliance Theatre

Atlanta’s first formal Jewish congregation celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2017. Formally known as The Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, most locals simply call it “The Temple.” Its rich history is not only a tale of Atlanta’s Jewish population, but also a history of Atlanta itself. Many of the city’s defining moments and cultural icons are linked to The Temple. For example, Atlanta’s Christmas tradition The Pink Pig is the brainchild of the Rich family (owners of Rich’s department store), who were members of The Temple.

To mark this 150th anniversary, PBA30 developed this documentary chronicling several of the major moments in the history of The Temple.

As part of that documentary, PBA30 joined the Alliance Theatre for a special conversation about one of The Temple's most important moments in history -- the 1958 bombing. The Alliance Theatre premieres a new play this February based on Melissa Fay Greene’s 1996 bestselling book “The Temple Bombing.” It tells the story of the 1958 attack on The Temple by white supremacists in Atlanta. The point of the attack was to threaten The Temple’s Rabbi, Jacob Rothschild, an outspoken advocate of civil rights and desegregation. Instead, the bombing turned into a rally cry and part of Atlanta's reputation as the "City Too Busy to Hate.”

PBA30 recently attended a special presentation of select scenes from the play. The event was hosted by WABE’s Lois Reitzes and included a conversation with Greene and Jimmy Maize, the writer and director of “The Temple Bombing” play.

The full conversation is available for streaming above.


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