One of the Southern States of the American Union; admitted in 1796—the third after the incorporation of the original thirteen; seceded June 18, 1861; readmitted in 1866. A few Jews were among a number of traders who settled near the Holston River, in the present Hawkins county, in 1778; otherwise no traces of Jewish settlement during the eighteenth century are found. The first congregations organized were those of Memphis (see
Jews settled here in 1858; but for many years divine services were held only during the holy days. About 1890 the Mizpah congregation was organized and Reform worship introduced, the officiating rabbis being successively Judah Wechsler, L. Weiss, Moses Gries, L. Rubinstein, S. H. Sonneschein, and Leo Mannheimer. The present (1905) incumbent is the Rev. Jonah Wise. An Orthodox congregation, the B'nai Zion, has also been established. The societies organized for benevolent purposes are: the Hebrew Ladies' Aid Association; the Jewish Relief Society of Chattanooga; the Federation of the Sons and Daughters of Zion; Chattanooga Lodge I. O. B. B. Two of the most prominent members of the community have been Adolph Ochs and George W. Ochs, the former as editor of the "Chattanooga Times," and the latter as mayor and president of the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Education, and the Library Association. As publishers of the "New York Times" and the "Philadelphia Public Ledger," both brothers now reside on the Atlantic coast. Chattanooga has a population of 30,154, including not more than 600 Jews.Knoxville:
The community of Knoxville is divided into two Orthodox congregations—Beth-El and Cheska Emunah. Recently (1904) a B'nai B'rith lodge has been organized; a Young Men's Hebrew Association was formed in 1900. The Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society and the Jewish Ladies' Sewing Circle attend to the needs of the poor. The Rev. I. Winnick is the rabbi of the Cheska Emunah congregation. Knoxville has a population of 32,637, including about 700 Jews.Nashville:
In 1845 several Jewish families settled in Nashville. Additions to these resulted in the establishment in 1854 of the Congregation Magen David, with Abraham Schwab as president. Another congregation was formed at the same time under the name B'nai Jeshurun; and this in 1865 was merged in the Reform congregation Ohavai Sholom, with the Rev. Judah Wechsler as rabbi. The latter congregation, whose pulpit has been occupied in turn by H. Goldammer, L. Tintner, I. S. Moses, and I. Lewinthal (the present incumbent), is progressive and prosperous; it has a synagogue on Vine street and a cemetery with a mortuary chapel. Its membership is 225, and 150 pupils attend the Sabbath-school. A Ladies' Auxiliary Society is attached to it. The Orthodox congregation Adath Israel is fully organized, and its membership has been augmented by an influx of Russian immigrants. The following benevolent societies have been established: Maimonides Lodge I. O. B. B.; Gal-Ed Lodge, Free Sons of Israel; the Hebrew Relief Society (founded 1885); and the Standard Club (1880; a social organization). Nashville has a population of 80,865, of whom about 2,400 are Jews.
Brownsville (population 2,645) and Jackson (population 10,039) both have congregations. Though the Jewish population of Brownsville is only 100, its congregation, known as Adas Israel, was established and its burial-ground purchased as early as 1867. The present incumbent of the rabbinate is Emil Tamm. Its synagogue was dedicated in 1882 by Dr. M. Samfield of Memphis. West Tennessee Lodge I. O. B. B. and a Ladies' Hebrew Relief Association discharge the charitable obligations of the community. Jackson, with a Jewish population of 150, has a congregation and a synagogue. A B'nai B'rith lodge was formed there in 1903. Columbia and Clarksville have small Jewish communities; and Jewish settlers are found in Franklin, Ripley, Murfreesboro, Bristol, Pulaski, and Dyersburg.