Jews began to immigrate to Vermilionville (the original name of Lafayette) in the early 1800s. They found an atmosphere there that spoke of opportunity for their skills, products, and services.
Temple Rodeph Shalom was founded in 1869 as an Orthodox synagogue. That same year Governor Alexandre Mouton donated land to be used as a cementery for the Jews of southwest Louisiana. The coming of the railroad contributed to the increase of the Jewish community. In 1881, Governor Mouton again gave two lots for the purpose of building a synagogue at the Lee Avenue location. The temple was built there in 1889. At that time, the congregation joined the Reform movement.
In 1953, the social hall and kitchen were added to the building, and in 1960 religious school rooms, a rabbi’s study, and a library were built. For one hundred and sixteen years Jews have practiced their faith in the same location and building which bears the name TEMPLE SHALOM after merging with the congregation of Yeshurun Synagogue.
For more details, see the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities – Lafayette, Louisiana.