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NASHVILLE, city in central Tennessee, U.S. Although there had been individual Jewish families in Nashville almost since it was founded in 1780, it was not until 1851 that the Hebrew Benevolent Burial Society purchased land for a cemetery. This piece of land is still a part of The Temple Cemetery, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The first congregation, K.K. Mogen David, chartered in 1854, was made up of the mostly German members of the Hebrew Benevolent Burial Society. A second congregation, Ohava Emes, was chartered in 1860. In 1867 the two congregations reunited under the name of Ohava Sholom. A short-lived Reform congregation, B'nai Yeshurun, had begun in 1864. Ohava Sholom adopted the Reform ritual and took the name "Vine Street Temple" when it completed a new sanctuary in 1876. It later relocated and took the name The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom. Also in 1876 the Conservative congregation Adas Israel was chartered. It later became the present West End Synagogue. The Hungarian Benevolent Society, chartered in 1871, evolved into the Orthodox congregation Sherith Israel. In 1992 a second Reform congregation, Congregation Micah was started. The Chabad Congregation Beit Tefilah began in 2001.

Nashville's very active Jewish community belies its population of barely 8,000. The Gordon Jewish Community Center was established in 1902 as the YMHA. Because of Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement, the Jewish Community Center was dynamited in 1958. The Jewish Federation, founded in 1936 as the Jewish Community Council, helps Jews everywhere sustain communal life. The Nashville Section of the National Council of Jewish Women was founded in 1901. Jewish Family Service celebrated its first hundred and fifty years in 2003. It has assisted in the settlement in Nashville of Holocaust refugees and survivors and Jews from the former Soviet Union. B'nai B'rith and Hadassah are active in Nashville.

Nashville's Vanderbilt University has an active Ben Schulman Center for Jewish Life and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Jewish studies.


F.S. Frank, Five Families and Eight Young Men (1962); idem, Beginnings on Market Street (1976); J. Roseman, From Y to J, the Hundred-Year History of Nashville's Jewish Community Center (2004).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.