In 1862 Bavarian-born Michael Grausman and his wife Regina moved from Warrenton, North Carolina to Raleigh. This was the beginning of Jewish Culture in Wake County.
After the Civil War, the Jewish population grew and in 1874 the Grausmans turned the nursery room of their home into a synagogue and classroom. Mr. Grausman, who had at one time studied to be a Rabbi, assumed the responsibility of teaching Jewish history and Hebrew. This became known as the first synagogue of Raleigh.
Sometime in the 1880’s, the group outgrew the Grausman nursery and a room over Rosenbaum’s Millinery on Fayetteville Street became the second synagogue. After the turn of the century, the Jewish population of Raleigh formed the Hebrew Sunday School and the synagogue moved to new headquarters over Mr. Rosenthal’s store at the corner of Wilmington and Hargett Streets. This organization later became known as the Raleigh Orthodox Hebrew Congregation. This early congregation included both the Reform and Orthodox Jews of Raleigh.
In 1913, about 40 Orthodox Jewish families established the House of Jacob on South East Street. The Rabbi and his family lived downstairs. The Shul services were held upstairs. The Reform Jews established Temple Beth Or in a room above the Heilig Levine Furniture Store and hired their first Rabbi. In the 1940’s, the Jewish community outgrew their places of worship and the House of Jacob moved to a new building on West Johnson Street and changed its name to Beth Meyer Synagogue, in memory of Mayer Dworsky.
Raleigh prospered and the Jewish community grew. In 1978, Temple Beth Or moved to its current home on Creedmoor Road. In the early 1980’s the Orthodox congregation Sha’arei Israel was founded and established its synagogue on Falls of the Neuse Road. In 1983, Beth Meyer Synagogue moved to its current location on Newton Road. In the early 1990’s, the Jewish population of Cary established a Reform Temple, Beth Shalom, and moved into their new building on Yates Mill Pond Road in 2000. Our most recent congregations include Chabad of Cary and Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community.
In the late 1970’s, a group of individuals volunteered and established “Jewish Community Services,” an organization which provided social services to individuals and families in need. The community has a history of supporting overseas Jewish needs through the United Jewish Appeal campaigns and in 1986 volunteers formed the Wake County Jewish Federation, the precursor of the Raleigh-Cary Jewish Federation and now the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary. Since its establishment, the Federation has grown significantly, staff has been hired to support the community, and the Jewish Community Center was established in the early 1990’s.