Plus, movies in the park + free wine tastings
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49º | Sunny | 5% chance of rain
Sunrise 7:24 a.m. | Sunset 5:07 p.m.

Beth Ahabah’s history in Richmond
A black and white photo of a synagogue
Congregation Beth Ahabah’s history in Richmond goes back almost as far as the city itself.|Cook Collection, The Valentine
Ever noticed the regal, four-columned synagogue nestled on the outskirts of VCU? That’s the home of congregation Beth Ahabah — and there may be more history to it than you realize.

When the congregation was founded in 1789, Richmond had a population of around 3,700. Of those Richmonders, only 100 were Jewish — mostly Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal. Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome (Congregation Holy House of Peace) was only the sixth Jewish congregation in the US. In 1791, Beth Shalome was one of four congregations nationwide to receive a letter from then-President George Washington.

The congregation built its first synagogue in 1822, a small brick building at 115 Mayo Street — roughly where I-95 runs along 14th Street today. By 1841, Richmond’s Jewish community had grown enough that Ashkenazi members of Beth Shalome decided to form their own congregation, and congregation Beth Ahabah (House of Love) was born.

a modern photo of Beth Ahabah's synagogue

Beth Ahabah today.


Photo by RICtoday

Throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction, a significant portion of Richmond’s Jewish population left the South entirely. By 1898, numbers had dwindled enough that the two congregations decided to merge again, now as Beth Ahabah.

The congregation’s current home at 1121 W. Franklin St. was built in 1904. The building was notable — then and now — for its Byzantine style and the proscenium arch rising from the head of the sanctuary. The elaborate paintings on that arch were added in 1913, funded by the congregation’s Ladies Auxiliary. The sanctuary was also noted for its use of an electric light bulb for its Ner Tamid (Eternal Light), considered a significant innovation for 1904.

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) begins at sundown tomorrow night. Whether you’ll be in the pews at Beth Ahabah or not, make sure to eat some apples and honey for a sweet new year.
Thursday, Sept. 14
  • Lecture Series: “A Madman’s Will” | Thursday, Sept. 14 | 6 p.m. | Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 428 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., Richmond | $0-$10 | Historian Greg May will discuss his book, “A Madman’s Will: John Randolph, Four Hundred Slaves, and the Mirage of Freedom.”
Friday, Sept. 15
  • Movie Night at Abner Clay Park | Friday, Sept. 15 | 8 p.m. | Abner Clay Park, 200 W. Clay St., Richmond | Free | Bring a blanket or lawn chair and the whole fam for a screening of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”
  • McKinley Dixon | Friday, Sept. 15 | 8-11 p.m. | Gallery5, 200 W. Marshall St., Richmond | $15-$17 | Spend an evening with the rapper and Virginia native who’s making national headlines.
Saturday, Sept. 16
  • “The Sword in the Stone” | Saturday, Sept. 16 | 10 a.m. | The Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St., Richmond | $5 | The 1963 Disney film tells the story of King Arthur as a young boy.
  • Pitch RVA | Saturday, Sept. 16 | 12-2 p.m. | Dogwood Dell, 600 S. Arthur Ashe Blvd., Richmond | Free | Join in this pitching competition at the RVA Music Fest for a chance to receive a $500 small business grant.
Sunday, Sept. 17
  • Books & Brews | Sunday, Sept. 17| 4-6 p.m. | Intermission Beer Company, 10089 Brook Rd., Unit A, Glen Allen | Cost of purchase | Talk about books and drink beer every first and third Sunday of the month — no assigned reading required.
  • Artisan Market at Brambly Park | Sunday, Sept. 17 | 4-8 p.m. | Brambly Park, 1708 Belleville St., Richmond | Free | Shop small at this dog-friendly vendor market.
Saturday, Sept. 23
  • Legends on Grace: Bobby Smith | Saturday, Sept. 23 | 8-10 p.m. | Dominion Energy Center , 600 E Grace St Ste. 400, Richmond | $42-$52 | Broadway performer Bobby Smith joins RPAA for Legends on Grace, hosted by R.L Rowsey, for an intimate cabaret style performance and conversation taking a dive into his career.*
Click here to have your event featured.
News Notes
  • Henrico is one step closer to finishing its GreenCity project. The county purchased a 111-acre area known as Scott Farms yesterday for $35 million, approved to be used for 880 for-sale homes planned as part of the mixed-use development. (Richmond BizSense)
  • Maymont is seeking volunteers to help support its Bier-Garden event September 22-23. Tasks could include setting up, working the bar, and helping at various stations. Pro tip: Volunteers get free entry to enjoy the festivities.
  • City Stadium will host the Simms/Flowers Classic on Friday, Sept. 15 + Sunday, Sept. 17. Squads from Hampden-Sydney, Emory, Catholic, and Mary Washington University will square off in four matches. Grab your tickets before they’re gone.
  • Enjoy a free wine tasting tomorrow at Afterglow Coffee in Scott’s Addition from 4-6 p.m. Julie Shepherd of Plant Wines will be pouring samples and answering questions.
  • VCU is among the top 100 universities in the nation for utility patents granted, according to a new ranking from the National Academy of Inventors. Researchers at the university were granted 17 utility patents in 2022, earning them No. 86 on the list. (VCU News)
See who’s performing at this year’s Folk Festival
The Folk Fest returns in October.|Photo by RICtoday
The full roster of performers for this year’s Richmond Folk Fest has been announced.

The annual, free, three-day festival will be returning for the eighteenth time this year. The festival’s six stages will feature over 30 performing groups from across the world, including right here in Virginia. In addition to the music, the event will feature dance lessons, craft markets, food vendors, and storytelling.

The Folk Fest will run from 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13 until 6 p.m. that Sunday. Music featured will include Chicago blues, Ukrainian folk music, zydeco, Hindustani violin, bluegrass, salsa, and a whole lot more.

Want to start planning your Folk Fest weekend? Check out the full schedule of performances, and use this map to figure out where to find them.
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The Wrap
David Lefkowitz.png Today’s edition by:
From the editor
Another fun fact about Beth Ahabah? Those beautiful stained glass windows weren’t always there — all 29 panes were donated by the same family in 1923.
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