Explore Jewish Life in Jacksonville
Jacksonville, like many eastern North Carolina towns, has seen its Jewish population wax and wane with the changing economy. Located on the New River with access to coastal ports, the city is home to the massive Camp Lejeune Marine Base. Although Jews arrived before its opening in the 1940s, the Jewish presence grew with the camp town. Served by a circuit-riding rabbi, Congregation B’nai Mordechai was established in the 1950s but closed its synagogue in the 1990s. Local Jews traveled to congregations in Wilmington. Bi-weekly Reform services, led by a Jewish military chaplain, continued at Camp Lejeune’s Jewish Chapel. Since 2021, when Orthodox Rabbi Rabbi Yerachmiel and Rebbetzin Sara Chana Altman arrived to reestablish a congregation, the Jewish community has enjoyed a revival.
The Institute of Southern Jewish Life traces the first Jewish settlers to Russian immigrant Max Margolis, whose family arrived in 1912 to open a store. State senator Jerry Popkin was a colorful character known as a philanthropist and Jewish benefactor. A local bridge is named for him.
The congregation provides home hospitality for kosher meals, classes, and holidays, serving both Marines and local residents. It also offers Judaica and kosher food. The Rabbi also has outreach to a Noahide Community of non-Jews. Contact YBA@gmail.com for information.