The History of Agudath Achim
On December 7, 1903, a petition for incorporation as a religious society was granted to “Congregation Agoodath Ahhim.” Interestingly, the name was not changed to Congregation Agudath Achim until 1950 when the original corporate charter was renewed. Organized initially as an orthodox congregation, those who filed the original petition for incorporation constituted the entire membership. Agudath Achim joined the United Synagogue of America in 1945 to become the first Conservative congregation in Georgia.
The early Congregation did not own a building of its own until 1919. At that time, a building on Montgomery and York Streets was purchased. It was large enough to accommodate 100 people. The initial membership dues were established at $12.00 per year which increased to $25.00 a year in 1928. Early minutes of the Congregation disclosed that additional funds were raised by fining officers $0.50 for failure to attend weekly meetings on Sunday mornings.
The original founders and incorporators were all prominent in the early growth and development of Agudath Achim. The early leaders (Joseph Kaminsky, J. Lasky, Sam Kaminsky, and A.J. Fineberg) were later joined by Samuel Tenenbaum, Isaac Feinfeld, Joseph Greenberg, Joseph Kronstadt and others. In 1936, the Congregation had outgrown the York Street building, and these men made the decision to move to a building on Drayton and Waldburg. The building was opened on Sunday, June 22, 1941. At the opening dedication ceremonies, Samuel Kaminsky, Louis Kaminsky and Jacob Lasky were the only three surviving who were among the original incorporators. At that time, the officers of the Congregation were Samuel Tenenbaum, President; Morris Cohen and Meyer Tenenbaum, Vice Presidents; Joseph G. Kronstadt, Secretary; and Joseph Greenberg, Treasurer. At the opening of the building, the Ner Tamid was lighted by Samuel Kaminsky.
Twenty seven years later, Agudath Achim’s Building Fund Committee, headed by Murray Galin, Albert Tenenbaum and Dr. Charles E. Sax, selected Leon J. Meyer as the architect to construct a new synagogue. On Sunday, November 8, 1970, formal groundbreaking ceremonies were held at the Lee Boulevard site. This property was donated to the Congregation by J. Curtis Lewis in honor of Sam Steinberg.
The official opening of the new location was scheduled to coincide with the High Holiday Services, September 19. 1971. A special Mincha service was held in the Drayton Street location, conducted by Bob Kaminsky, and at the conclusion of these services, the Torahs were removed from the Ark and taken in procession to Lee Boulevard. Those who carried the Torahs were E.Z. Manning, Willie Lasky, Julius Kaminsky, Allen Kooden, Martin Lippman, Ralp Tenenbaum, and Joe Weiner. At the doors to the new building, the Torahs were transferred to Dr. Charles Sax and his son (Sheldon), Mr. Barney Sadler and his son (Allan), Dr. Albert Perry and his son (Jonathan), Dr. Gerald E. Caplan and his son (Joel), Ephraim Cooper and his son (Howard), Murray Galin and his son (Jeffrey) and Irvin Konter and his son (Darryl) who placed the Torahs into the Ark. Samuel Kaminsky had the honor of lighting the Ner Tamid as his grandfather, the late Samuel Kaminsky, had done previously at the Drayton location.
From its inception in 1903, many men and women have contributed to the growth and enrichment of our Congregation. The legacy of this dedication acts as a wellspring of inspiration for future generations.