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Open House Chicago: KAM Isaiah Israel

By Quinn Ford | October 20, 2013 8:45am
 KAM Isaiah Israel, 1100 East Hyde Park Boulevard, sits across the street from President Barack Obama's Hyde Park home and is home to the oldest Jewish congregation in the Midwest.
Open House Chicago: KAM Isaiah Israel
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HYDE PARK — Some of the city's most ornate and historic buildings are opening their doors to the public this weekend, as The Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts its third annual Open House Chicago.

The foundation boasts 150 buildings across the city that are open to the public through Sunday evening.

The most famous building in Hyde Park these days may be President Barack Obama's home, but just across the street is a building that houses the oldest Jewish congregation in the Midwest.

Designed by Alfred S. Alschuler, KAM Isaiah Israel's current synagogue was completed in 1924. The building's architecture is a neo-Byzantine style, with a large dome and stained glass windows.

With an elevated altar, the synagogue's layout is a reflection of the 1920's attitude of pomp, said KAM Isaiah Israel's Mark Mandle.

The original congregation was formed in 1847 and had several locations around Chicago before settling in Hyde Park. At its height, KAM Isaiah Israel had almost 1,700 families. Today, that number has shrunk to about 350, but Mandle said the synagogue plans on sticking around the neighborhood.

"We're 166 years old. We've been here 90 years," Mandle said of the Hyde Park location. "We plan to be for at least the next 90."

Mandle said Hyde Park's Jewish community is not "thriving" as it once was or compared with other neighborhoods like Lakeview or Rogers Park.

But Mandle said KAM Isaiah Israel has had a number of notable members, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago-area politician and federal judge Abner Mivka.

In addition to KAM Isaiah Israel, 13 other locations in Hyde Park are participating in OpenHouse Chicago through Sunday.

Open House Chicago runs through the weekend. Most building are open until 5 p.m. Sunday; check here for details for each building.