Congregation Mikveh Israel
An active congregation where services are conducted in the Spanish-Portuguese tradition.
Congregation Mikveh Israel is one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States. By the way, Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City is the oldest; Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island has the oldest extant synagogue building.
Historically Prominent Congregants include
- Nathan Levy (1704-1753) merchant, owner of ships registered at the Port of Philadelphia, secured the first grant of land for Jewish burial purposes in Pennsylvania (next stop on tour).
- Haym Salomon (1740-1785) patriot, broker to the Office of Finance superintendent Robert Morris. Negotiated sale of notes and currencies to meet the needs of the Continental Congress.
- Isaac Moses (1742-1818) patriot and merchant. Subscribed 3,000 pounds and his personal credit to furnish provisions for the Colonial army.
- Rebecca Machado Phillips (1746-1831) born to a Portuguese Marrano family, an active participant in early communal, educational, and philanthropic organizations.
- Simha Peixotto (1807-1892) helped establish the Hebrew Sunday School Society, wrote America's first textbook for Jewish children, managed the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society.
- Rebecca Gratz (1781-1869) founder and officer of many social and educational institutions which served as a model for others, Jewish and non-Jewish.
- Rev. Isaac Leeser (1806-1868) founded America's first Jewish Publication Society (1845), first Hebrew high school (1849), and first rabbinical school (Maimonides College, 1867). As founder and publisher of the monthly The Occident, he had nationwide influence. His Bible translation was the standard among English-speaking Jews for nearly 70 years (until the 1917 JPS version).
- Mary M. Cohen (1854-1911) supervisor of the Sunday School, author of articles, poems and short stories active in Jewish religious and educational organizations.
- Rev. Dr. Sabato Morais (1823-1897) rabbi and educator. A founder of the U.S. Conservative Movement and its Jewish Theological Seminary, he was president of its faculty until his death.
- Dr. Cyrus Adler (1863-1940) Librarian of the Library of Congress, Re-organized the Jewish Publication Society of America (1888), President of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Dropsie College, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the American Jewish Committee, the America Jewish Historical Society and our Congregation.
- Location: 44 North 4th St., between Arch and Market Streets (Map)
- Congregation Founded: 1740
- First building dedicated: June 19, 1782, Historic marker on Cherry Street east of 4th Street
- Current building dedicated: July 4, 1976
- Tourism information: By reservation with the Museum at 215-923-3811. Note, currently shares building with the National Museum of American Jewish History.
- Official website: www.mikvehisrael.org
Thank-you to Molly Lou Conrad, Assistant Archivist Mikveh Israel Congregation for reviewing the information on this page. (April 2002)