Temple Mickve Israel
Directly across Monterey Square from the Mercer House is Temple Mickve Israel (20 E. Gordon St., 912/233-1547, www.mickveisrael.org), a notable structure for many reasons: It’s Georgia’s first synagogue; it’s the only Gothic synagogue in the country; and it’s the third-oldest Jewish congregation in North America (following New York and Newport, R.I.).
Notable congregants have included Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribiero, who helped stop an epidemic in 1733; his descendant Raphael Moses, considered the father of the peach industry in the Peach State; and current Mickve Israel Rabbi Arnold Mark Belzer, one of Savannah’s most beloved community leaders.
A specialist in the study of small, often-persecuted Jewish communities around the world, Belzer met Pope John Paul II in 2005 as a part of that Pontiff’s historic rapprochement between the Catholic Church and Judaism.
Mickve Israel offers 30–45 minute tours of the sanctuary and museum, which are open daily 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2–4 p.m. It’s closed weekends and on Jewish holidays.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition