The second oldest continuously used synagogue west of the Allegheny Mountains and the oldest in Illinois.
Quincy’s first permanent Jewish resident, an immigrant from England by the name of Samuel Jonas, arrived in 1838. Jonas was active in local Masonic and political affairs. Within a few years his two brothers and their families joined him in Quincy. In 1841 Jonas was elected to the illinois State Legislature where he met and became friends with Abraham Lincoln. Historians say that Jonas was Lincoln’s closest Jewish friend and that it was Jonas who helped propel Lincoln to his presidency.When Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise made a one day stop in Quincy on July 16, 1856, he noted that “there are about 40 souls of the Jewish persuasion hailing from Germany, Poland and England. They do a flourishing business.” He also wrote that “they would have a nice little congregation if they could overcome their business jealousy.” Apparently they did. In 1852 they formed a Congregation of 26 families known as K.K. B’nai Abraham. It was not long until the congregation reached one hundred. In 1864 a splinter group, interested in more modern ways formed K.K. B’nai Sholom.
Isaac Mayer wise layed the corner stone of Temple B’nai Sholom in July of 1869 and in september of 1870 the new Temple was dedicated. The new building was sheathed in red brick with a neo-Byzantine style of architecture, had six-story tall Moorish towers. After a disastrous fire at B’ai Abraham’s wooden synagogue B’ai Abraham was merged into B’nai Sholom.
In 1947 the twin minaret-style towers were damaged by a tornado in 1947 and were not replaced. At this writing (2013) B’nai Sholom’s membership now numbers approximately 65 and its building, although changed in appearance, remains the second oldest continuously used synagogue west of the Allegheny Mountains and the oldest in Illinois.