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North Carolina’s oldest Jewish house of worship.

1840s and 1850s that the Jewish population was large enough to warrant and support a synagogue. Wilmington was the state’s largest city, port and rail center drawing Jewish immigrants from Germany. Establishment of a synagogue was delayed by the Civil War. In 1872 a congregation was organized with 40 families. Construction of the synagogue was begun in 1875 and completed in 1876. By 1878 there were approximately 200 Jews in Wilmington.

Temple of Israel is the first synagogue constructed in North Carolina. The building was designed by architect Samuel Sloan of Philadelphia. Sloan had a national reputation as a designer of both public and private institutional buildings. Temple of Israel is one of three Wilmington houses of worship he designed. The other two being the current First Baptist Church and the previous First Presbyterian Church building.

Sloan’s design is Moorish style with prominent twin onion domed towers and horseshoe arched windows. The Moorish Revival architectural style was popular for synagogues in both the United States and Europe yet Temple of Israel is the only building in Wilmington employing that style.

According to Temple of Israel’s historical information the Temple is one of fewer than thirty congregations in the United States to endure in its original nineteenth century structure.