Prior the Civil War, Alexandria was one of the busiest ports in the United States due to its location on the Potomac River and close proximity to Washington, D.C. Alexandria’s German-Jewish population arrived during the economic boom of the 1850s. Many of them fled the German states after the failed political revolutions of 1848, but also pulling German-Jewish immigrants to Alexandria was economic opportunity and the promise of religious freedom. Though they were small in number compared to other Southern cities, German-Jewish immigrants of Alexandria were important members of the community. The Civil War brought additional large numbers of German-Jewish merchants into the city where they established small businesses. They eventually created the Beth El Hebrew Congregation, establishing a permanent synagogue in Alexandria in 1871.
German-Jewish immigrants became prominent members of Alexandria society through small business ownership, Civil War participation and involvement in politics, and the establishment of Beth El Hebrew Congregation.
Research Team: Ashley Jenkins, Shannon Ball and Allison O’Connor
“Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities-Alexandria, VA,” Institute of Southern Jewish Life, 2014, Accessed November 14, 2015, http://www.isjl.org.