The Beth Am synagogue building, a grand Moorish-inspired structure, was designed by noted architect Joseph Evans Sperry, who had designed such local Baltimore landmarks as the Bromo Seltzer Tower, the Provident Bank Building, and the Eutaw Place Temple, former home of Oheb Shalom Congregation. Sperry first studied the architecturally important synagogues of Europe. Many people comment on Beth Am’s similarity to the Great Synagogue of Florence with its three-arched entrance and Byzantine-Moorish design.
When the building opened in 1922 as the home of Chizuk Amuno, it was the practice for men and women to sit separately. The central section of sanctuary seating, main floor and balcony, was designed for men, while women sat in the side sections. Mixed seating began in the congregation in 1947.
The building has been painstakingly preserved. Visitors – and congregants – marvel at the spiritual feeling the sanctuary evokes through the interplay of light, space, sound, and architectural detail.
The modernizations necessary to keep Beth Am vibrant have been delicately incorporated into the historic structure. The building and the sanctuary are fully accessible and air-conditioned.
Beth Am is an urban synagogue located in Baltimore’s historic Reservoir Hill neighborhood. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the residents of the blocks surrounding Beth Am were predominantly Jewish. Many current Beth Am members grew up here.
Today Reservoir Hill is an economically and racially integrated community, and Beth Am is an important participant in community activities. Beth Am belongs to the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, partners with the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, and worked with neighbors in the Lakeside Neighbors Coalition to help purchase and rehab abandoned homes and resell them to homeowners. Community groups use the synagogue for meetings, voting, and social events. In keeping with the synagogue’s focus on social justice, Beth Am and its congregants continue to work in partnership with community residents to enhance a beautiful and diverse historic neighborhood.