My guide was Oscar Israelowitz’s book: Jewish Heritage Trail of New York.
Stop 144: Central Synagogue
Designed in 1872 in the Moorish Revival style, inspired by the Dohany Street synagogue in Budapest. Restored after a major fire in 2002. The community house is across the street.
Looking west across Lexington Avenue and 55th at the Central Synagogue. (January 2010)
|Location||646-652 Lexington Avenue,
Manhattan, New York City,
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Synagogue|
|Architectural type||Neo Gothic|
|Architectural style||Moorish Revival|
|Direction of façade||ESE|
|Length||40 meters (130 ft)|
|Width||25 meters (82 ft)|
|Width (nave)||14 meters (46 ft)|
|U.S. National Historic Landmark|
|Added to NRHP:||October 9, 1970 |
|NRHP Reference No.||70000423 |
|Designated asNHL:||May 15, 1975|
The Central Synagogue (Congregation Ahavath Chesed) is located at 652 Lexington Avenue on the corner of E 55th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York. Built in 1872 in the Moorish Revival style as a copy of Budapest‘s Dohány Street Synagogue, it pays homage to the Jewish existence in Moorish Spain. It has been in continuous use by a congregation longer than any other in the city. The building was designed by Henry Fernbach.
The dramatic style of the building was the subject of much debate during the construction. Some felt its excess would inspire envy and stand in the way of assimilation.
It is among the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 15, 1975. On Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m. a docent conducts a free tour, which begins at the front entrance.
The building was restored by 2001 in the original style after an accidental fire in August 1998. The roof and its supports were destroyed as a result of the fire. During this fire, the firefighter’s sensitivity for the building saved all but the central pane in the rose window that dominates the eastern (Lexington Avenue) wall. The marble plaques on the north wall of the foyer honor the firefighters of the 8th Battalion of the New York City Fire Department.
The synagogue owns the Salem Fields Cemetery, Brooklyn.
Sensitive to the evolving interests and needs of the Reform community, Central Synagogue explores both traditional and alternative modes of prayer. In addition to daily morning minyan, Shabbat and holiday services, and celebrations of lifecycle events, Central Synagogue offers havurot (Jewish study groups), Tot Shabbat and Tyke Shabbat for children, and healing and community services. Interfaith celebrations include an annual community Thanksgiving and Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day.) Other special services include the annual Shofar Award Shabbat, which honors a Jew of distinction and inspiration. Past recipients include journalist David Halberstam and James Ingo Freed, architect of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Frank Birnbaum, cantor, 1951-1953
- Angela Warnick Buchdahl, cantor since 2011, senior rabbi since 2014
- Synagogues built in the Moorish Revival style:
- Oldest synagogues in the United States
Here are some of my photos:
Inside. There are tours on Wednesdays at 12:45
Scenes around 47th Street, the Diamond District
|Location of the Diamond District in Manhattan.|
|County||New York County|
|City||New York City|
The Diamond District is an area of New York City located on West 47th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) in midtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many New York attractions. It is located one block south of Rockefeller Center, three blocks south of Radio City Music Hall (along the Avenue of the Americas), three blocks south of St Patrick’s Cathedral (along Fifth Avenue), and one block east of the Broadway Theater District. The Plaza Arcade, lined with shops, connects the street to Rockefeller Center.
The district was created when dealers moved north from an earlier district near Canal Street and the Bowery that was created in the 1920s, and from a second district located in the Financial District, near the intersection of Fulton andNassau Streets, which started in 1931. The move uptown started in 1941. The district grew in importance when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and Belgium, forcing thousands of Orthodox Jews in the diamond business to fleeAntwerp and Amsterdam and settle in New York City. Most of them remained after World War II, and remain a dominant influence in the Diamond District.
A notable, long-time anomaly of the district was the famous Gotham Book Mart, a bookstore, which was located at 41 West 47th Street from 1946 to 2004.
The area is one of the primary centers of the global diamond industry (along with London — rough stones; the Antwerp diamond district in Belgium — historical but waning; Mumbai, India — increasing in significance, Ramat Gan, Israel — also growing, and Johannesburg, South Africa — the major historical source), as well as the premier center for jewelry shopping in the city. An estimated 90% of diamonds in the United States enter through New York.
Total receipts for the value of a single day’s trade on the block average $400 million.There are 2,600 independent businesses located in the district, nearly all of them dealing in diamonds or jewelry. Most are located in booths at one of the 25 “exchanges” in the district. Many deals are finalized by a simple, traditional blessing (mazel und brucha) and handshake. The Diamond Dealers Club — also known as the DDC — is an exclusive club that acts as a de facto diamond exchange and has its own synagogue. Retailers with shops line the streets outside. Above the bazaar is theGemological Institute of America which trains gem dealers.
Stop 143: The New York Public Library
Dorot Jewish Division
Stop 137: Oldest Ashkenazic Congregation
Congregation B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue and Community House
|Congregation B’Nai, March 2009|
|Location||257 W. 88th St. and 270 W. 89th St., New York, New York|
|Area||0.9 acres (0.36 ha)|
|Architect||Schneider,Walter S.; Et al.|
|Architectural style||Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements, Semitic Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||89000474|
|Added to NRHP||June 2, 1989|
B’nai Jeshurun is a synagogue in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City.
The synagogue was founded by a coalition of young members of congregation Shearith Israel and immigrants and the descendants of immigrants from the German and Polish lands. It was the stated intention to follow the “German and Polishminhag (rite).” The order of prayers followed that of the Ashkenazi Great Synagogue of London and sought the guidance of the British chief Rabbi Solomon Hirschell on matters of ritual. The congregation dedicated its first building on Elm Street in Manhattan in 1827.
The first rabbi, Samuel Isaacs, was appointed in 1839. By 1850, the congregation had grown large enough to make it necessary to build a new synagogue on Green Street.
In 1865, the congregation moved yet again, to a new building on 34th Street, the parcel later part of the site of the flagshipMacy’s store. Driven by the rapid expansion of the city, they moved yet again in 1885 to Madison Avenue at 65th Street. That building was designed by Rafael Guastavino and Schwarzmann & Buchman.
The present building, located at 257 West 88th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue was dedicated in 1917. It was designed by Henry B. Herts, a congregant and celebrated theater architect, with Walter S. Schneider. In addition to its place on the National Register of Historic Places, the synagogue was included in the New York City Riverside Drive-West End Historic District created in 1990. The muqarna-studded ceiling was redesigned following its collapse during renovations in the early 1990s and was replaced with a future-invoking space frame back-lit to simulate a nighttime sky.
B’nai Jeshurun’s original founders broke from the city’s only synagogue, Shearith Israel, in 1825, in order to create an Ashkenazi congregation. Subsequently, B’nai Jeshurun members broke away to form new shuls several times.
B’nai Jeshurun took a leading role in founding the Board of Directors of American Israelites in 1859. When the Board of Delegates merged with the (Reform) Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1878 the congregation went along, but in 1884 it left the Reform Movement. Two years later, it also supported the founding of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in 1886, a school formed to support Orthodoxy in combating the Reform movement.
In 1889, the congregation published its own edition of the prayer book.
When Solomon Schechter used JTS to create a more conservative set of reforms to traditional Judaism, B’nai Jeshurun joined his United Synagogue of America, now the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
In the 1990s the congregation left the Conservative movement and is now independent.
A spiritual and demographic renaissance began in 1985, with the arrival of Rabbi Marshall Meyer.