The Sanborn map below contains a view of 4 blocks from the Atlanta, Georgia Sanborn Map of 1932 Volume 3.1 Before the construction of the Downtown Connector, the Congregation Ahavath Achim once sat on the corner of Washington Street S.W. and Woodward Avenue.

Congregation Ahavath Achim first began in 1887 in a small house on Gilmer Street and Piedmont Avenue (where the Georgia State University Student Recreation Center is now!), very slowly expanded to accommodate members, and by 1899 had begun construction on a synagogue on the same lot.2 By 1920, the congregation was servicing over 200 families, and their synagogue on Gilmer Street was not enough to accommodate all their members, so they expanded and began construction on another synagogue on the corner of Washington Street and Woodward Avenue, completed in 1921.3 There were about 800 families being serviced at the congregation by 1940.3 Ahavath Achim is Atlanta’s second oldest Jewish congregation.4

Rabbi Harry H. Epstein

Rabbi Mayerovitz served the congregation from 1901 to 1905, Rabbi Joseph Meyer Levine served from 1905 to 1915, Rabbi Yood from 1915 to 1919, and Rabbi A.P. Hirmes from 1919 to 1928.4 But the most notable of the congregation’s history is Rabbi Harry H. Epstein. Rabbi Harry H. Epstein became the congregation’s fifth spiritual leader in 1928, and he went on to serve the congregation for over 50 years.5 In his first 25 years, he increased the congregation size from 225 families to 1,400.6 By 1952, he had completed the conversion of the congregation from Orthodox Judaism to Conservative Judaism, which the congregation still practices today.4,5 Thanks to the foundation he gave Ahavath Achim, it is currently the largest Conservative congregation in Atlanta.4 Rabbi Epstein was the author of “Judaism in Progress,” a book of sermons.6 He also was state chairman of the Jewish National Fund and served as the head of Atlanta Jewish Welfare Fund, Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith, and the Mizrachi Organization.6

The Congregation Today

Now, the synagogue no longer stands due to the space being cleared for the Downtown Connector. This is what the site of a space that used to contain so much Jewish Atlantan culture looks like today.

But the congregation still exists today despite having to endure several relocations in its lifetime, its last being due to the construction of the Downtown Connector. The congregation now sits just south of Buckhead, by Memorial Park, and has been renamed to Ahavath Achim Synagogue.7

  1. Sanborn Map Company. Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, 1932. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1932. “Atlanta, Georgia Volume Three 1932” ↩︎
  2. “WILL BUILD NEW SYNAGOGUE,” The Atlanta Constitution, Aug 26, 1899. ↩︎
  3. Kysa Daniels, “Ahavath Achim Synagogue: A warm home for spiritual journey,” The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Aug 23, 2003. ↩︎
  4. Berman, Sandra, Josh Waldrop, and Erin Wright. “Congregation Ahavath Achim (Atlanta, Ga.) Records.” Collection: Congregation Ahavath Achim (Atlanta, Ga.) Records | The Breman Museum ArchivesSpace. ↩︎
  5. “Epstein, Rabbi Harry.” The Breman Museum.
  6. “Rabbi Epstein To Be Honored At Synagogue,” The Atlanta Constitution, Feb 27, 1953. ↩︎
  7. “Ahavath Achim Acquires Site for New Synagogue,” The Atlanta Constitution, July 15, 1953. ↩︎