History, archives, and events at Jewish Museum & Culture Center

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Other News

The only site of its type in Tidewater, the Jewish Museum & Culture Center (JMCC) is housed in a former synagogue, Chevra T’helim, a building constructed more than 100 years ago in Portsmouth.

The original congregation was established in the early 20th century by Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe.  The synagogue’s architecture reflects this geographic orientation.  A bima (raised platform) is situated at the far end of the sanctuary with an elevated reading table centered in the middle.  The balcony, originally for women, makes available seating for a total of 200 people.  This special congregation existed in a vibrant manner for many years, celebrating lifecycle events and Jewish holidays – serving the religious and spiritual needs of the Jewish community.  In recent decades, however, congregants moved to the suburbs and across the Elizabeth River and the congregation declined. With no congregation, the building fell into disrepair.

Interested in both Jewish history and the Tidewater Jewish world, some concerned citizens focused on restoring this treasure to its former glory. Through a combination of local funds and government assistance, the roof and HVAC were replaced and the interior painted, bringing Chevra T’helim back to life as the Jewish Museum & Culture Center.

As such, JMCC offers a wide variety of enjoyable Jewish-themed educational and entertainment opportunities.  In addition to touring the site itself – and learning about the history of those who created it – JMCC stores archival materials of various Jewish community activities.  It also offers such stimulating programs as:

Wonderful Wednesdays: Four-part music series … July/August 2023 

Annual Silent Auction with a gourmet Italian buffet … August 27, 2023

Lecture Series … Fall/Spring 2023-2024 

2nd Annual Daffodil Planting Project … October 2023/March 2024 

Berkley: The Heart of a Neighborhood … November 2023 

Lecture Series … Winter/Spring 2023-2024  

Saturday Night Cinema Series … January 2024

The Jewish Museum & Culture Center is located at 607 Effingham Street in Portsmouth.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

These exciting, ticketed programs are all open to the public.  Contact Barbara Rossen at 757-391-9266 or at www.jewishmuseumportsmouth.org for additional information.  

-Allan Zeno