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History of the Jews in Atlanta

The history of the Jews in Atlanta began in the early years of the city's settlement, the Jewish community continues to grow today. In its early decades, the Jewish community was made up of German Jewish immigrants who assimilated and were active in broader Atlanta society; as with the rest of Atlanta, the Jewish community was affected by the American Civil War. In the late 19th century, a wave of Jewish migration from Eastern Europe brought less wealthy, Yiddish speaking Jews to the area, in stark contrast to the established Jewish community; the community was impacted by the Leo Frank case in 1913–1915, which caused many to re-evaluate what it meant to be Jewish in Atlanta and the South, scarred the generation of Jews in the city who lived through it. In 1958, one of the centers of Jewish life in the city, the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, known as "The Temple" was bombed over its rabbi's support for the Civil Rights Movement. Unlike decades prior when Leo Frank was lynched, the bombing spurred an outpouring of support from the broader Atlanta community.

In the last few decades, the community has become one of the ten largest in the United States. As its population has risen, it has become the Southern location of many national Jewish organizations, today there are a multitude of Jewish institutions; the greater Atlanta area is considered to be home to the country's ninth largest Jewish population. First founded as Marthasville in 1843, Atlanta changed its name in 1845, that same year the first Jews settled there; the first two known Jewish settlers, Jacob Haas and Henry Levi, opened a store together in 1846. By 1850, 10% of Atlanta stores were run by Jews, who only made up 1% of the population and worked in retail in the sale of clothing and dry goods. Many early Jewish settlers, did not end up settling permanently in Atlanta, turnover in the community was high. In the 1850s, due to the transient nature of much of the Jewish community, there were no consistent religious services and no formally organized community; that changed in 1860s, after the founding of the Hebrew Benevolent Society, started as a burial society, which lead to the creation of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation in 1867.

Early members of the society secured the first Jewish plots in the famous Oakland Cemetery, in its original six acres. The congregation, which came to be known as “The Temple”, has been an important focal point of Atlanta Jewish life since its synagogue was dedicated in 1877. During the Civil War, the Jewish community in the city were not all on the same side of the conflict; when the war was over and the city was left to rebuild after it had been burnt down when General Sherman and his troops approached the city, Jews played a larger role than before in the city's public sphere and its society. As the city became the center of the “New South”, its economy expanded, enticing a number of Jews to move to the city. According to one figure, in 1880, 71% of Jewish adult males in Atlanta worked in commercial trade, 60% were either business owners or managers; the community was very present in politics – two Jews from the Atlanta area were elected to the state legislature in the late 1860s and early 1870s, in 1875 Aaron Haas was the city's mayor pro tem.

Additionally, David Mayer helped found the Georgia Board of Education and served on it for a decade until his death in 1890. Beginning in 1881, Atlanta received a portion of the influx of Jews immigrating to the U. S. from Eastern Europe the Russian Empire. While the existing Atlanta Jewish community was assimilated wealthy, of liberal German Jewish backgrounds, the new immigrants were of a different background, they were poor, spoke Yiddish, shunned the Reform Judaism of The Temple, held Orthodox views. By the early 20th century, these more recent immigrants outnumbered the German Jewish community of The Temple. In 1887, Congregation Ahavath Achim was founded to fit this new portion of the community, in 1901 their synagogue was built in the middle of the south side area where most Yiddish Jews lived. In this period, multiple synagogues opened only to rejoin Ahavath Achim or The Temple in the following years or next decades. In 1902, Congregation Shearith Israel, which did not flame out like other contemporary congregations, was formed by a group of Ahavath Achim members who were discontent with the level of stringency of observance there.

In 1910, Shearith Israel hired Rabbi Tobias Geffen to head their synagogue, who would go on to have a large impact on the Atlanta Jewish community as well as Orthodox communities throughout the South. In the early 20th century, about 150 Sephardi Jews immigrated to the city, many of whom came from Turkey and Rhodes. A group in the Sephardi community founded their own synagogue, Ahavat Shalom, in 1910. In 1912, some Turkish Sephardi Jews broke off from the congregation and founded their own, Or Hahyim. Two years both congregations merged and became Or Ve Shalom, their first synagogue building was dedicated in 1920. In 1913, a small number of Hasidic Jews founded their own synagogue, Anshi S’fard; the divisions between Yiddish speaking Jews and Jews of German backgrounds extended beyond the synagogues as well, in many ways it was as though there were two separate Jewish communities. The perception of the German Jewish community was that the Yiddish Jews were of a lower class a threat to the cultivated image of the Jewish community in the city, needed to assimilate but be kept separate.

This dynamic visible in the realm of Jewish communal organizations. German Jewish organizations such as the Hebrew Relief Society and the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society helped the poor in the community. Sometim

Humfrey Dyson

Humfrey Dyson was a London scrivener and notary, notable early book collector in England. He was the son of a wax-chandler of the parish of St Alban in central London. Humfrey himself may have been a member of the wax-chandlers' company; some accounts identify him as a clerk of the Parliament of his day, though this is subject to doubt. Dyson is remembered as an early book collector, catering for the merging market for political and historical information, his notebooks for 1610–1630 furnish a rare source for the study of tracts and books, pricing in the book trade of that period. His collecting was focused on plays, tracts and proclamations. In 1618 he published, in folio, A Book containing all such Proclamations as were published during the Raigne of the late Queene Elizabeth, he wrote out the will of Henry Condell, witnessed the will and codicil which Nicholas Tooley, the actor in Shakespeare's company, made on 3 June 1623. His association with these two notarial acts have suggested Dyson may have had links to William Shakespeare’s circle.

His father's will, of 1608, refers to two daughters, Humfrey's sisters named Judith and Susanna. These happen to be the names Shakespeare gave to two of his own daughters; the Dyson household, in Wood Street, was not far from Silver Street, where Shakespeare was lodging in 1604. He was buried on 18 January 1632/3 at London. Dyson, Humfrey. "Catalogue of all such Bookes touching as well the State Ecclesiastical as Temporall of the Realme of England." MS 117, Codrington Library, All Soul’s College, Oxford. Ramsay, Nigel. "Dyson, Humfrey". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37380