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Humble beginnings


1862 marked the settlement of the first practicing Jews in Raleigh, North Carolina. Bavarian-born Michael Grausman and his wife, Regina Einstetta, operated a tailoring business making uniforms for Confederate Army soldiers. During Reconstruction, the Grausmans were joined by a growing number of their co-religionists, and in 1874, they transformed the nursery room of their small home into a synagogue and classroom to nurture a community. Michael, who had once studied to be a rabbi in Europe, taught the littlest ones Jewish history and Hebrew. By 1883, the congregants had outgrown the Grausmans’ nursery, and so they relocated to a room above Rosenbaum’s Millinery Store on Fayetteville Street. At some point between 1896 and 1899, this pioneering group disbanded.  

Sustained growth in Raleigh’s Jewish population led to the re-organization of a congregation in 1912, this time above a shop at the corner of Wilmington and Hargett Streets. The Hebrew Sunday School Association — soon after renamed the Raleigh Hebrew Congregation — was a spiritual home for Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews alike, and its early business was directed at reconciling their divergent viewpoints on religious practice and ritual. In December 1913, a Hanukkah auction took place during which the congregation was renamed yet again. Sadie Glass bid $80 to win the privilege of suggesting a new name, and she chose House of Jacob. 

The House of Jacob


In its early years, The House of Jacob was at most 30 to 40 members strong. Until the 1940s, its synagogue was a two-story house on South East Street — one floor for the sanctuary, the other for the rabbi and the rabbi’s family. From memoirs, we know that the sweet aroma of tzimmes and other Jewish delicacies would waft upwards from the kitchen to the sanctuary, captivating the davenners (pray-ers). In the 1920s, Rabbi Isaiah Printz even ran a small Jewish deli out of the kitchen; he made and sold pickles and sauerkraut to bring in extra money! 

In May 1949, ground broke on a new synagogue building on West Johnson Street. Dedicated two years later, this sacred space — and the congregation that dwelled in it — became Beth Meyer Synagogue. This name was a memorial to Meyer Dworsky, a long-time member of the Raleigh Jewish community. 

population boom


As Raleigh transformed into an economic powerhouse and hub of research and development, Beth Meyer Synagogue’s membership roll expanded rapidly. By the 1970s, the congregation numbered almost 200 member units and was ready to move again. After scouting nineteen sites, they bought a wooded, eleven-acre tract on Newton Road — yes, our home! On March 20, 1983, we carried the Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) under a huppah in joyous procession from the old Sanctuary to the new one and affixed a mezuzzah to the doorpost.  

The shul more than doubled in size over the pursuing three decades. In Fall 2010, we added the Alice & Daniel Satisky Education Building so that our learning programs could flourish; a year later, Libi Eir (Awakened Heart): The Wendy Brown Community Mikveh was inaugurated to complete our campus. 

Sun, June 16 2024 10 Sivan 5784