Our History

The earliest indication of Jews living in Frederick is the court record of a suit filed by Henry Lazarus and Company in 1742.  During that decade, other Jewish residents of Frederick included Levi Cohen (a partner in  the Lazarus company), Sampson Lazarus (Henry’s brother), Frumet Cohen (Sampson’s wife) and the Jacob Frank family.

The first formal religious organization, the Frederick Hebrew Congregation, was founded in Frederick City in about 1840. Services were held in homes, then stores, then the Masonic Temple. The first brit milah was held in Frederick in 1842. The congregation was very active during the 1840s and through the late 1890s. In 1910, services were still being held in the Masonic Temple.

In 1858, when there were few ordained rabbis in the U.S., Frederick was fortunate to have Rabbi Sussman Goebricher, who served as the congregation's first rabbi.

David Lowenstein (pictured, right) came to Frederick in 1863; his sister Amelia was the wife of Samuel Weinberg. David became an industrialist and a land developer.

In 1919, Beth Israel Congregation, the first synagogue in Frederick County, was built in the neighboring community of Brunswick, Md. Its doors were open until the late 1950s.

The former Frederick Hebrew Congregation was chartered on Oct. 6, 1917. In 1919 the congregation incorporated as Beth Sholom Congregation.

The idea of establishing a synagogue in the city began to take shape in 1921 thanks to the efforts of the newly formed Frederick Section, National Council of Jewish Women. That same year Leo Weinberg and his wife Rae purchased the former the Elks Club, located at 20 West Second Street, for the purpose of donating it to the congregation, in perpetuity, "with the stipulation that the building be properly equipped and maintained as a synagogue."1

The newly renovated building was dedicated as a synagogue on Sept. 2, 1923. Thanks to the generosity of the Weinberg family (pictured above), the first permanent Jewish house of worship in Frederick became a reality. It was rededicated in 1976 when the building was renovated.

Leo, the son of Amelia Lowenstein Weinberg and Samuel Weinberg, and Rae Weinberg lived next door. Amelia's brother, David Lowenstein, became very prosperous and was involved in building the Francis Scott Key Hotel as well as other business enterprises. 

When Leo died in September of 1942, Jeannette Weinberg (pictured, left) became president and taught the boys their Bar Mitzvah lessons when Frederick had no rabbi. She was the financial backbone of the congregation from 1935 to 1960.

With a growing membership, in 1984 Beth Sholom built its first Community Center at 1011 North Market Street, where our synagogue now stands. While services were still conducted at the downtown location, religious school, nursery school, day camp, youth activities, bingo and other social functions were held at the Community Center.

The congregation quickly outgrew this building and on September 26, 1993, a groundbreaking ceremony launched the construction of a new and expanded Community Center. The building opened in December 1994 but a formal dedication ceremony was held June 11, 1995. Services and other functions continued to be held at the West Second Street location until 2015, when the building was returned to the Weinberg family.

In October 2017, the congregation celebrated its100th year with an anniversary gala and a mortgage burning ceremony.

1 This quote and all information on this page came from The Jews Beneath the Clustered Spires, by congregants Paul and Rita Gordon. 

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