Site of Pioneer Jewish Synagogue (No. 865 California Historical Landmark)
California Historical Landmarks Program
Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region
2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California
3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.
California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.
In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.
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People rushed into the Gold Country from nations all over the world. The Chinese Immigrants, the Jewish, German, Irish, Russians and thousands of others established new homes and new lives as miners, business owners, farmers and farm workers. Each ethnic group brought traditions from their culture and set up camps and villages to worship and celebrate the memories of their homeland.
Sept 18, 1857, Congregation B’nai Israel of Jackson dedicated the first synagogue in the Mother Lode. The building was used for High Holiday worship until 1869 when the congregation moved into the larger Masonic Hall. After the facility was no longer used as a synagogue, it was converted to a school house and attracted students until 1888. The building was later relocated to become a private residence and torn down in 1948.
The congregation was established before the building went up as a result of a newspaper ad placed in fall 1856 to announce Jewish New Year services. Those that gathered to worship had neither Scroll nor Torah. They borrowed the items they needed from the San Francisco congregation for high holidays.
The historical landmark is located on the southeast corner of Church and Main Streets in Jackson.
Amador County was one of the most productive of the “Mother Lode” counties. The mine shafts were reported to be among the deepest in the world. Mining continues in select areas today. The eastern slope of Amador County begins at Kirkwood’s historic stage stop. The relatively narrow county is aligned between the Mokelumne and Cosumnes rivers and roughly follows an important emigrant trail route. Gold rush camps and boom-towns abound in the history of the area. Amador County is also recognized for its dozens of vineyards and wineries.
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