synagogue

Temple Adas Israel
N. Washington Ave. and E. College St.

The earliest Jewish settler in Brownsville was Jacob Felsenthal, who immigrated to the United States in 1840 from Bavaria.  He settled in Brownsville in 1847, opening a retail store.  Two of his brothers fought for the Confederacy.  One of them, Isaac Felsenthal, was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862.  After the war their business boomed.  Their store, J. Felsenthal and Brothers, was one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the state, and remained in its original location in downtown Brownsville until it closed in 1974.

In 1860, Jacob and Joseph Sternberger arrived from Germany and opened a grocery store.  They also brought with them a century-old Torah.  The Adas Israel congregation was established seven years later.  Initially, the congregation gathered in homes to worship, but in 1882 they built the Temple Adas Israel.  Originally a small wooden structure, the temple underwent a major renovation in 1920 that included the addition of a brick veneer exterior, an enlarged rostrum, an organ system and stained glass.  The Gothic Revival building you see today has a protruding vestibule with original, paired, wood panel doors with lancet stained glass transom, a concrete Star of David and diamond stained glass window above still.  Temple Adas Israel was listed on the National Register in 1978.

Today, only three Jewish families remain in Brownsville.  The Levy’s, owners of Willow Oaks, an ornamental plant nursery located on Highway 54, have one-and-half acres of greenhouses and six acres of outdoor facilities filled with bedding plants and perennials. David Levy is a descendent of one of Brownsville’s first Jewish settlers, Joseph Sternberger.

Zion Church – Christ Episcopal