The Jewish community has existed in Columbia since the early nineteenth century, with German Jewish settlers practicing Judaism in a synagogue they had rebuilt in 1900, after it was destroyed by General Sherman’s troops in the closing days of the Civil War. By 1907, a number of Jewish men began to gather in this small house at the corner of Park and Lady Street to conduct Orthodox services. This small “minyan” became the House of Peace (Beth Shalom) under the leadership of the first congregational president, Philip Epstein, and received a state charter in 1912.
By 1928, Columbia’s Jewish community was too large to be accommodated in the Park Street Synagogue and plans were made to erect a larger synagogue. On January 27, 1935, this building was built on Marion Street. In 1955, the congregation moved from the orthodox movement to the conservative movement, where it remains today, and a general meeting on April 21, 1955, the congregation approved the purchase of land on Trenholm Road to be used to build a Jewish Community Center, education building and Synagogue. The JCC later became a separate organization and the education building (now known as Lollipop Lane Daycare) served as Sunday School, Hebrew School, and Nursery School, until the current education wing was added onto the synagogue in 1980.
Ground-breaking ceremonies for the new Synagogue at 5827 North Trenholm Road, were held on December 19, 1971. The dedication of the new Synagogue we now call home was held on March 25, 1973. Ten years later, the synagogue became egalitarian and continues that tradition proudly. At a general congregational meeting held on October 31, 1976, the congregation voted to build an education building adjacent to the Synagogue. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on May 20, 1979 and the completed building was officially dedicated on January 12, 1980. A major expansion of the education wing was built in 1999. A Mikvah was constructed adjacent to the education building in 1999 and is available to the entire community. Today our congregation has the largest membership in its history and many second and third generation Beth Shalom members have taken leadership roles within the Synagogue.
Beth Shalom remains the leader in the Jewish community with its outreach, education, and philanthropic arms. The synagogue physically houses the Jewish Day School, operated by Chabad of SC. Additionally; Beth Shalom offers religious school programming for children 4-16 years old. Bar/ Bat Mitzvah classes are offered in the religious school, as well as post Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes.
The synagogue is governed by the Board of Directors, the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Education; all three entities work closely together. The Rabbi is the spiritual leader of the synagogue and the Educational Director oversees and supervises the Religious School and Adult Education Programs.
Beth Shalom Synagogue provides a comprehensive Jewish educational program for the children and youth of the congregation beginning with the early childhood years and extending through Hebrew school into middle school and high school. The young people of the congregation have the opportunity to learn about and participate in the religious traditions and culture of our people. Bar and Bat Mitzvah for boys and girls at age 13 are particularly meaningful at Beth Shalom. And the emerging teen program offers unique opportunities for further Jewish learning coupled with travel to Israel and elsewhere.
The congregation also offers a wide-ranging adult education program, including opportunities for studying Hebrew and participating in adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes, discussion groups, lectures on diverse topics such as Israel, Jewish holidays, and life cycle events.
The Sisterhood of Beth Shalom Synagogue plays an active role in the Jewish community. It seeks to instill the ideals of Judaism into the lives and homes of its members through education, social action and religious observance.
Beth Shalom Synagogue is located in the Forest Acres area of northeast Columbia. Access is easily available from Interstate 20, Interstate 77, Fort Jackson, and the downtown area. Google Map directions