Bangor was established in the mid-19th century. Located on the Penobscot River, Bangor was one of Maine’s wealthiest towns during these years, and drew a large immigrant population due in great part to the booming lumber industry. In 1849, a small group of German Jews lived in Bangor, establishing a kosher butcher shop and purchasing a piece of land suitable for a burial ground. By 1850. they had organized the first synagogue in Maine.
“What was the interior of the synagogue like? To this there are a number of references in the minutes. Originally there were nine benches with a total of thirty-six seats. These seats were raffled off and men’s and women’s stands were distributed to the members by lot. The remaining stands were available to Jewish non-members at $1.00 per seat. Two years later four more benches were required and their purchase was authorized – thus providing seating for fifty-two persons… In addition to the number of seats, we know that there was a stove, and a new curtain for the Ark was purchased in 1855. Beyond this we have no description of the synagogue, its location or its appointments in the minutes.”
~ William J. Leffler II, from A Study of Congregation Ahawas Achim, 1957
“Mr. Heinemann was the only paid religious functionary of the congregation. He enjoyed the offices of clergyman, teacher, ritual slaughterer, circumciser, cantor, choir director, and general servant of the congregation.. . .In his original agreement with the congregation, it was Heinemann’s duty to ‘slaughter ritually, porge (cut out certain sinews) and circumcise.’ He also was to slaughter poultry free of charge for every member. Whether he received compensation for his former skills is not mentioned. However the shochet was not authorized to slaughter meat for members who were in arrears.”
~ William J. Leffler II, from A Study of Congregation AhawasAchim, 1957