Congregation Mikveh Israel, Philadelphia, PA



Congregation Mikveh Israel, Philadelphia, PA


Congregation Mikveh Israel (officially Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel), known as the "Synagogue of the American Revolution" is one of the most historic Congregations of Jews in the United States. The oldest Congregation in Philadelphia, Mikveh Israel was informally established by religious minded Jews in British America during the 1740s, and has become the second-oldest surviving Congregation in all of the United States. In Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia in particular, Jews found an environment of tolerance for their religious beliefs and traditions made possible by William Penn's 'great experiment'. The possibilities of economic and religious liberties in Philadelphia drew many Jews to the area, and by 1775 a community 300 strong existed in a city of 35,000.

During the war of Independence, 1775-1783, Jews from New York, Easton, Lancaster, Richmond, Charleston and Savannah sought refuge in Philadelphia from the British occupation. Many members joined the ranks of the Patriots and fought for the revolutionary cause.

In 1782, the Congregation dedicated a new building on Cherry Street that sat 200 persons and had accommodations for the clergy adjoining it. In 1829 the congregation built an Egyptian Revival synagogue on Cherry Street. Designed by William Strickland, it is notable for having been one of the earliest Egyptian Revival buildings in the United States. After moving out of Center City, along with much of Philadelphia's population in the first half of the 20th century, the Congregation announced in 1961 that it would return to construct a new house of worship. A modest building, initially shared between the Synagogue and the Museum of Jewish History, was dedicated and opened in August 1976.

Among items in the archives of Congregation Mikveh Israel are letters written by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and a public subscription list for the 1782 building signed by Benjamin Franklin, David Rittenhouse, and other civic leaders. Several notable ritual items also exist, including ornamental bells (“rimmonim”) crafted by renown silversmith Myer Myers.


Congregation Mikveh Israel

Collection Items

Bound volume contains all certificates of Births from 1841-1862. Each birth certificate includes date of birth, name of newborn, parents names, and name of person overseeing birth who also signs the certificate.

Bound volume contains all birth certificates from 1843-1862 issued by Congregation Mikveh Israel. Each birth certificate includes date of birth, name of newborn, parents names, and name of person overseeing birth who also signed the certificate.

Bound volume consists of Congregational meeting minutes from 1782-1791. The meeting minutes cover elections of synagogue officials, Congregational business regarding finances, and daily events and updates.

Archival folio containing the official charter and constitution of the Congregation Beth El Emeth, incorporated by the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia in 1857. The volume includes the seal of the Court and the signature of the prothonotary,…

Manuscript with cover sheet, which describes the manuscript thusly: "Haym Salomon Manuscript, in hand of a professional amanuensis, of Salomon's own account of the purchase of the property and the financing of the construction of Synagogue Mikveh…

Printed worship service for the dedication of Mikveh Israel's new synagogue. Book is in Hebrew with English translation on the opposing page. Opposite pages bear duplicate numbering.

List of officers for the synagogue under the new constitution and charter, beginning with 5584 (1823-24), with rosters for additional years written later: 5585 (1824-25), 5586 (1825-26), and 5587 (1826-27). The sheet is titled, "Proceedings of the…

Petition for the building of a mikveh, a Jewish ritual bathing facility. The petition is not signed, but indicates that its subscribers will pledge contributions towards the building of the mikveh.

Weekly statements of contributions to the synagogue.

Scanning note: this volume does not have a back cover.

Alexander Wertheim was a Dutch Jew who settled in New York and then Baltimore before settling in Philadelphia. He became clerk to the Board of Health in Philadelphia, where he died in 1830 at the age of 55.

See: Rosenwaike, Ira. “The Jews of…

This volume has been partially digitized, from 1824 through 1870, as the grant funding was specifically for records ending in 1870.
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