Monday, October 12, 2009

Most sermons in Nashville's 19th century synagogues were in German


Nashville's Vine Street Temple, dedicated in 1876

This weekend's 30th Annual Oktoberfest had me thinking again about the history of German immigrants in Nashville. The Church of the Assumption celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and I have previously reported that 50 of those years featured German-language preaching.

German immigrants to Nashville were also instrumental in founding Jewish congregations, and like their Catholic counterparts, the majority of them worshiped in German for a while, according to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities:
Jews were very active in civic life in Nashville. Many were involved with non-Jewish fraternal societies like the Masons and Odd Fellows. A number joined German-speaking lodges, reflecting their strong German identity. Indeed, most of the sermons delivered in Nashville’s synagogues in the latter half of the 19th century were in German.
Photo source: Tennessee State Library and Archives

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