Kahl Montgomery

Kahl Montgomery

…meaning Jewish Congregation of Montgomery, was chartered in 1852. The Kahl completed this Romanesque Revival structure on Catoma Street in 1862, even as the Civil War raged, using the design of a Philadelphia architect. The Lehman brothers, who had started a most successful store and cotton exchange in Montgomery, worshiped here, but right after the war they moved to New York, where their business grew into the worldwide conglomerate we know about today (and mourn its recent demise).  Mordecai Moses also worshiped at this Kahl. He served two terms as mayor, and it was thru his vision that Montgomery was able to install the world’s first electric streetcar system. A Church of Christ congregation, led by the renowned educator, J M Barnes, bought the property in 1901 and took the name Catoma Street Church of Christ.



Soon after the war, probably in response to reports sent back by the three Lehman Brothers from New York, the Kahl began to relax some of its strict Orthodox traditions, and in 1874 renamed itself Beth-Or (House of Light). In 1902, having sold their former synagogue to a church of another faith (amidst much controversy over that), it built and moved into a new temple on the corner of Sayre and Clayton Streets (pictured at right). On the day of moving, a lively procession carried the Torah scrolls from the old to the new location.  About the same time, a breakaway group, longing for the old traditions, left Beth-Or and founded the Agudath Israel Church of Montgomery. Temple Beth-Or relocated to its present site on Narrow Lane Road in 1961, and its synagogue on Sayre was demolished.

-Charles Humphries


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