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More than 100 years old, Agudas Achim’s building is maintained in pristine condition

The first record of a Jewish person in Taunton was when Massachusetts was still a colony of England. Aaron Lopes, a Portuguese merchant, arrived in America in 1762 but was denied citizenship in Rhode Island. Lopes came to a Taunton court to become the only Jew naturalized as a British subject in Massachusetts. More than 100 years passed until the records reflect the presence of Jews in Taunton, when Adolphus Henry Levi was admitted to the bar in Superior Court in 1874. The first permanent Jewish resident of Taunton was Moses Goldstein, an immigrant from Elizabethgrad, Russia. In fact, most of the Jewish migration to Taunton was Eastern European and Russian Jews escaping persecution in their homelands.

The Taunton Hebrew Fraternal Association, the first Jewish group in the city, formed in 1905. Groups of Jewish families met for worship at each other’s homes and at the Polish Club in Whittenton. Israel Faber, a kosher butcher, was the first leader of the congregation. Faber is the tall man in the center of the accompanying photograph.

Land for the synagogue was purchased in 1912 for the sum of one dollar and other valuable considerations, according to historical records. The laying of the cornerstone for the synagogue took place on July 13, 1913. While many more wealthy Jews vied for the honor, a young man named Charles Tanenbaum gave his entire life�s savings of $98 to the congregation for the honor of laying the cornerstone.

Congregation Agudath Achim describes itself as an independent, progressive congregation. There are currently approximately 85 member families, however over the years there have been as many as 160.