Maine Jewish Museum
267 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
The Etz Chaim Synagogue was founded at a time when Portland’s Jewish population was concentrated on the peninsula. As congregants moved to Deering and the surrounding suburbs in the second half of the 20th century, attendance dwindled. The remaining congregation struggled to maintain and heat the historic building.
The formation of the Tree of Life Foundation in 2008 and the creation of the Maine Jewish Museum in 2009 have rescued the synagogue from closure. The building has been restored, and the story of Maine’s Jewish history and contributions to art and culture is being told, broadening public understanding of one of Portland’s immigrant communities. In addition the new museum significantly contributes to the vitality of the historic India Street neighborhood.
Greater Portland Landmarks awarded the Etz Chaim Synagogue their 2012 Special Preservation Honor Award to celebrate the preservation and revitalization of this piece of Jewish life and culture in Maine. In 2015 the Etz Chaim Synagogue was designated a landmark building in the new India Street Historic District.
What You Can Do
- Visit the Maine Jewish Museum and attend one of their events.
- Support Landmarks' advocacy efforts.