Congregation B'rith Sholem
Even before the installation of railroad tracks, Ogden attracted the attention of a series of Jewish merchants who established stores in the town. As Ogden became a railroad hub, the Jewish community grew, prospered, and put down roots. In 1889, Frederick J. Keisel, a prominent Jewish business owner, became the first non-Mormon mayor of the city.
During the 1870s, some traveled to Salt Lake City to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with the Jewish Congregation meeting at the Liberal Institute on Third South. However, in 1890, a group of local orthodox Jews organized a small congregation of their own called Ohab Sholem. It met yearly to celebrate the high holy days in the clothing shop owned by Benjamin Oppman and Samuel Rosenbluth at 352 24th Street. Samuel Rosenbluth was the congregation’s first president.
In 1917, the congregation was reorganized as B’rith Sholem and acquired a Rabbi. At first, meetings were held in various locations rented by the congregation, but, in 1921, the present Synagogue was built and dedicated on August 21st. Since its dedication the building has served as the focus for local religious observances, benevolent activities, social gatherings, congregational newsletters, educational outreach, and Boy Scout Troops.
The building is a single-story brick building with gable ends facing east and west. On the west side there are three steps to the front doors which are recessed in an elaborate surround. The door is flanked by two Byzantine columns which support a wide frieze and a projecting semi-circular pediment. There is a Jewish Star from which rays burst forth like spokes from a wheel carved in the Tympanum. ‘Congregation B'rith Sholem’ is engraved into the stone frieze. Immediately above the doors is carved the inscription “May the doors of this synagogue be wide enough for all to enter.” The east side bulges out in a semi-circle to accommodate the ark which holds the Torah. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
In 1989, someone broke into the building and set several fires that badly damaged and blackened the interior. The necessary repairs and restoration were estimated to cost as much as $90,000 dollars. The surrounding community rallied in support of Congregation B’rith Sholem and money was quickly raised from both Jewish and non-Jewish sources. Over $70,000 was collected from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living across northern Utah. New stained-glass windows were designed and installed. The damaged original wood paneling was removed and replaced with wallpaper. Today, the building serves as the center for some forty households who gather and worship together.