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Upon first glance, many might mistake Temple Mickve Israel for a church. Its striking Gothic architecture includes slightly pointed windows, pinnacles and stained glass windows. Built in 1876, Temple Mickve Israel is home to the third oldest Jewish congregation in America. It is located on Monterey square, and considered to be an icon for Savannah’s Jewish community. The temples vast history spans more than two centuries with the arrival of Savannah’s first Jewish settlers in 1733. They came from Portugal, in an attempt to escape the Spanish Inquisition.
Welcomed with true southern hospitality by James Oglethorpe, many of the original 42 people who arrived here remained. In fact, some of their descendants are still a part of the community. Visitors to the temple are provided with a special film as well as a tour of the temple and its museum. In the museum, two ancient torahs are on display, one of them dating back to the middle-ages as well as a 16th-century megillah containing the book of Esther and the original cornerstone from the building.
A stop to the Mickve Israel is a stunning view into the magnificent history that Savannah is famous for.