Lexington’s first Jewish congregation was and is the Temple Adath Israel. It was established formally in 1904 “for the purpose of religious services, a Sabbath school and other matters pertaining to the moral elevation among the Jewish people of Lexington and Central Kentucky.”
Temple Adath Israel is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. According to reformjudaism.org, that movement of Judaism aims “to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt, and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.”
Tonight at 5:30 p.m. the Blue Grass Trust’s deTours program will host its monthly event at Temple Adath Israel’s historic sanctuary which is located in Lexington at 124 North Ashland Avenue. Specific event details are available at www.facebook.com/BGTdeTours or by calling the BGT office at (859) 253-0362.
The congregation first met in 1903, before charter in “a rented lodge hall on short Street in downtown Lexington, where a dozen of the it’s most prominent Jewish residents met to hold services, listen to the lecture of a visiting rabbi, and set in motion the establishment of a new congregation” according to the book The Synagogues of Kentucky. The congregation constructed and began worshiping in a synagogue on Maryland Avenue in 1904 in what was the first physical synagogue in Lexington; that structure is still standing.
|Temple Adath Israel Sanctuary prior to remodeling. UK Libraries.|
The only physical sign that the Maryland Avenue synagogue was a Jewish house of worship was “nothing more than a wooden sign near its door.” That sign has been on display at the Ashland Avenue synagogue since the congregation relocated to the location in 1926.
|Sanctuary of Temple Adath Israel, ca. 2014. Author’s collection.|
The Ashland Avenue facilities were expanded in 1950 and 1955, but those additions were removed when the entire complex was remodeled in 1984. At that time, the sanctuary was also partially remodeled with changes including the removal of the old pipe organ.
The congregation and its members have played a vital role in Lexington’s growth as well as our community’s commercial and spiritual activities.
We hope to see everyone tonight at the Blue Grass Trust deTour which begins at 5:30. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/BGTdeTours or call the BGT office at (859) 253-0362.