Albemarle County enjoys a rich Jewish tradition dating to the mid-18th century. Jews have been instrumental leaders in the social, commercial, political and religious life of the area. In 1882 Congregation Beth Israel, formerly the Hebrew Benevolent Society, laid the cornerstone on the region’s first synagogue, located in downtown Charlottesville at the northwest corner of Second and Market Streets. Only a decade later, the federal government bought the site for a new Post Office and Courthouse, which opened there in 1906 (and is today the home of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library). Congregation Beth Israel’s members painstakingly erected a new home (shown in this photo) only a few blocks to the north, at Jefferson and Third Streets, reusing much of the materials from the original temple. Unveiled in 1904, it survives today as the heart of the thriving and inspiring Jewish community of Central Virginia. (photo by Rufus Holsinger and courtesy of the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia).