My walking trail of Jewish Manhattan
using Oscar Israelowitz’s book, Jewish Heritage Trail of New York as my guide. With Google Maps, I was able to plan and enjoy without wasting time and energy, and so had an amazing experience.
My photos are mostly in the form of slideshows with some Wikipedia providing further info.
Some American Jewish music. More on bottom of the right hand side panel # 1 to 11
Some street scenes
The Apollo Theatre
From Oscar Israelowitz’s book:
Stop 153: Temple Ansche Chesed (Former)
1881 Seventh Avenue at 114th Street
The congregation was founded in 1828 by a group of German, Dutch and Polish Jews who split off from Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. By the time the congregation erected the building on Norfolk Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that is now the Angel Orensanz Center in 1850, there had been further secessions and the congregation was composed of immigrants from Germany. It was also the largest in the United States. In the 1870s, the congregation merged with Temple Emanu-El, but by 1881 the more traditional German Jews of Ansche Chesed had reformed, been joined by newer immigrants, and were meeting in Yorkville at Lexington Avenue and 113th Street.
In 1908, the congregation was part of the movement of upper-middle-class New Yorkers to the newly fashionable neighborhood of Harlem. The congregation opened a handsome, brick, Greek revival Temple at Seventh Avenue and 114th Street.
In 1928, the congregation again followed fashion, from Harlem to the even newer Upper West Side of Manhattan, opening its present Byzantine revival building at West End Avenue and 100th Street. The architect was Edward I. Shire.
Ansche Chesed is an egalitarian, participatory Conservative synagogue. In addition to its historic sanctuary, the congregation has a multi-story building with many classrooms and several event spaces. This makes it possible for multiple activities to take place in the building throughout the week, as well as for several minyanim to meet within the congregation. The minyanim include:
- Sanctuary Service
- Minyan Ma’at
- Minyan Rimonim
- West Side Minyan
Ansche Chesed’s Sanctuary Service is the minyan that directly continues the historical congregation of Ansche Chesed; its name derives from the fact that it holds its services in the synagogue’s sanctuary. This service follows the traditional Conservative liturgy (including full Torah reading and Haftarah and Musaf service). Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky delivers Divrei Torah (comments and explanations on the weekly Torah portion) several times a month and offers weekly comments on various aspects of the service. Cantor Natasha J. Hirschhorn leads the sung portion of the service, and is also Ansche Chesed’s music director. Lay members of the congregation also participate actively in all facets of the service.
Ansche Chesed runs a Hebrew School, with classes that begin in pre-school and continue through the teen years. The synagogue also runs an array of other educational initiatives, focused on adult learning, literature, and family programs. A Social Action Committee oversees a series of community outreach and support programs, including the hosting of a homeless shelter, local park clean-up activities, and programs focused on topics such as the environment. Ansche Chesed hosts several unaffiliated nursery schools, including Purple Circle, Yaldaynu Preschool, and Discovery Programs.
Stop 154: Temple Israel of Harlem (Former)
Lenox Avenue & 12oth Street
Temple Israel of the City of New York
|Location||112 East 75th Street,
Manhattan, New York,
|Leadership||Senior Rabbi: David J. Gelfand
Rabbi Educator: Alan Londy
Assistant Rabbi: Sara Sapadin
Cantor: Robert P. Abelson
Assistant Cantor: Sheila Nesis
(Schuman & Lichtenstein)
It purchased its first synagogue building Fifth Avenue and 125th Street in 1887, constructed its own at 201 Lenox Avenue and 120th Street in 1907, and constructed another at 210 West 91st Street in 1920. Its current Brutalist style building, at 112 East 75th Street on the Upper East Side, was completed in 1967.
Since its founding, Temple Israel has been served by only five senior rabbis: Maurice Harris (1882–1930), William Rosenblum (1930–1963), Martin Zion (1963–1991), Judith Lewis (1991–2006), and David Gelfand (2006–). As of 2010, its senior rabbi is Gelfand, and itscantor is Robert P. Abelson.
Temple Israel was incorporated in 1873 as Yod b’Yod (“Hand in Hand”) congregation by German Jews. An early trustee was Cyrus L. Sulzberger, father of New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The members were typically shopkeepers, traditionally observant, and first worshiped above a printing shop on East 125th Street in Harlem. They soon established a Hebrew school called “Gates of Learning” for the 45 children of the congregation. The congregation rented a larger space on 124th Street in 1874, and in 1876 leased a former church on 116th Street, between First Avenue and Second Avenue. In 1880, the congregation purchased the building on 116th Street.
Temple Israel was initially lay-led, but in 1882 appointed Maurice Harris as the congregation’s rabbi; at the time, he was still a student at Columbia College, Columbia University, and at Emanu-El Theological Seminary. In 1884, his installation was made official.
In 1887, the congregation purchased a building at Fifth Avenue and 125th Street, and the following year re-dedicated it as their synagogue. Designed by John W. Welch, the building had been formerly owned by the Holy Trinity Church, and was constructed in 1869–1870. In 1888 the congregation also re-organized, changing its name to Temple Israel of Harlem. In 1898, the congregation celebrated its 25 year anniversary and 10 years in its current home.
The congregation constructed its own synagogue building at 201 Lenox Avenue, at 120th Street, in 1907. The limestone building was not designed in the typical Moorish Revivalstyle of other synagogues of the time; the designer, Arnold Brunner, argued that “synagogues have no traditional lines of architectural expression”. According to David W. Dunlap, the building “looks like a Roman temple until you notice the Stars of David in the column capitals, fanlights, and spandrel panels”, and “may rank as the single best Neoclassicalsynagogue in Manhattan”. Temple Israel joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now Union for Reform Judaism) in 1909, and a few years later merged with Shaarey Borocho (or Shaaray Beracha), a synagogue of Alsatian Jews.
Moves to West 91st Street and East 75th Street
In 1920, the members moved to a new Neoclassical building at 210 West 91st Street, designed by William Tachau; the old building on Lenox Avenue was sold to the Seventh-Day Adventist Temple, which in turn sold it in 1925 to the Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Temple Israel elected its first woman trustee in 1921, dedicated its new building in 1922, and in 1924 officially changed its name to Temple Israel of the City of New York. By 1929, membership exceeded 950.
William Franklin Rosenblum succeeded Harris as Temple Israel’s second rabbi in 1930, and Harris died just a few months later that year. The congregation was active during theGreat Depression, and supported Jewish education programs for poor children of the neighborhood. Temple Israel actively supported the war effort during World War II, and afterward Rosenblum opposed the creation of Israel.
Rosenblum retired in 1963, and Martin Zion succeeded him that year as Temple Israel’s third rabbi. At the time, the congregation’s trustees had decided to relocate the synagogue from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and in 1964 began construction of a new building at Temple Israel’s current location, 112 East 75th Street.Designed by architect Peter Claman of Schuman & Lichtenstein, the Brutalist structure was completed in 1967. The previous building on West 91st Street was sold to the Young Israel of the West Side congregation, who still occupy it.
Events since 1980
Robert Abelson became leader of the congregation’s music program in 1980. In 1985, Judith Lewis became Temple Israel’s Director of Education, and in 1991 she succeeded Zion as the synagogue’s fourth senior rabbi. By 1995, membership was over four hundred families.
David Gelfand succeeded Lewis, becoming Temple Israel’s fifth Senior Rabbi in 2006. That same year Alan Londy joined the synagogue as Rabbi Educator. Sheila Nesis, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, served as Assistant Cantor from 2007 – 2012 before relocating to Phoenix, AZ. Sarah Sapadin joined the clergy as Assistant Rabbi in 2008, serving until 2013. As of 2010, the Senior Rabbi is David Gelfand, the Rabbi Educator is Alan Londy, the assistant rabbi is Sarah Sapadin, the Cantor is Robert Abelson, and the Assistant Cantor is Sheila Nesis.
Stop 155: Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation
One West 123rd Street
The mother congregation of the movement has since 1962 been located at 1 West 123rd Street in Harlem, New York City. Most of its members are Afro-Caribbean but it has always had diverse visitors and occasionally white members. They use the De Sola Pool Spanish and Portuguese prayerbook, the Hertz Chumash, parchmentTorah scrolls, and offer standard orthodox Sephardi style Sabbath and Jewish Holy Day services.
The congregation is featured in a scene from the 1970 motion picture The Angel Levine which starred Harry Belafonte and Zero Mostel. On June 12, 1971 Rabbi W.A. Matthew ordained three individuals as rabbis, his grandson Rabbi David Matthew Doré, Rabbi Jonah McCullough, and Rabbi Willie White. In 1973, Matthew died, creating an internal conflict over who would be the new leader. David Matthew Doré, who was 18 years old at the time, was named by Rabbi Matthew as spiritual leader of the congregation just before Matthew’s death. In 1975, the board of the congregation elected Willie White to be the new leader and without congregational approval shortened the name to Commandment Keepers Congregation. Doré continued to host services at the synagogue until the early 1980s, when White began locking people out. Doré at this time was working as a lawyer, but states that he often tried to enter the synagogue. Throughout the 1990s membership was declining. In 2004, Zechariah ben Lewi became the rabbi for the Commandment Keepers, and membership has dropped to eight people, with over two hundred actual members locked out of the temple. A lawsuit was filed against Doré that year for wrongfully claiming himself to be the spiritual leader of the congregation. The court ruled against Doré. The ruling was overturned on July 9, 2007. The board proceeded to sell the building at 1 West 123rd Street. Doré, as attorney for Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of the Living God Pillar and Ground of Truth, Inc., filed a lawsuit against the board for selling the historic landmark, and in October 2007 a court vacated the sale and ordered a trial. As of 2011, Doré’s suit against the buyer and the individual who claimed authority to sell the historic landmark was pending. The named defendants submitted motions to dismiss the action, Doré, as counsel for the congregation, filed opposition papers and both motions were denied. Defendants then appealed to the Appellate Division First Department. After oral argument the Appellate Division, in a unanimous decision issued June 4, 2013, denied defendants appeal to dismiss the case and affirmed the ruling of the lower court that denied defendants motion to dismiss. The case is on the trial calendar for April 2, 2014 before Justice Richard F. Braun.
The congregation will be profiled in a documentary film currently under development, which will be released in the near future.
Stop 156: Fire Tower
Above Mount Morris Park
Harlem Fire Watchtower
Harlem Fire Watchtower
|Location||Marcus Garvey Park, East 122 Street, Manhattan,New York City, New York|
|Architect||Julius H. Kroehl|
|Governing body||New York City|
|NRHP Reference #||80002692|
|Added to NRHP||June 21, 1976|
The Harlem Fire Watchtower, also known as the Mount Morris Fire Watchtower, is the only surviving one of eleven cast-ironwatchtowers placed throughout New York City starting in the 1850s. It was built by Julius H. Kroehl for $2,300 based on a design byJames Bogardus. It is located in Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan.
The Mount Morris Park tower went into service in 1857 in response to Harlem residents’ demand. The towers gave volunteers a perch from which to watch for fires that were common in the wooden structures that then made up much of New York City, and the watchers then spread the word via bell ringing. Later, electric telegraphs were installed but the bell provided local alarms.
When pull boxes and other technological advances rendered the fire watchtowers obsolete, the system was discontinued and the other towers eventually were destroyed. Harlem’s, protected in the middle of a park, endured.
During the New Deal, the area surrounding the Watchtower was rebuilt by government employees as part of the Works Project Administration jobs program. This project created a gracious plaza (sometimes called “the Acropolis”), stone retaining wall, and wide steps approaching the summit from several sides for pedestrians.
The tower was designated a city landmark in 1967 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The last work on the watchtower came in 1994, but cracks in the overall structure and in the bell remain. The granite parapet along the top is in need of restoration.
Weather, lack of maintenance and neglect have taken their toll over the years. Roof damage allowed water into the structure rusting structural members. The original copper roof deteriorated and has fallen off, exposing the interior to more damage. Many of the internal steps are missing and park visitors may no longer climb them or get near the structure which is protected by a fence. Two community groups have collaborated in 2013 to raise $4 million to restore the Harlem Watchtower: Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association  and the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance.
Starting in late spring 2014, the New York City Parks Department will disassemble the tower to restore the structure and ensure its soundness and stability before reconstruction.
Stop 157: Congregation Shaare Zedek Of Harlem (Former)
23 West 118th Street
Congregation Shaare Zedek (New York City)
|Congregation Shaare Zedek|
Sanctuary main entrance
|Location||212 West 93rd Street,
Manhattan, New York,
|Leadership||Rabbi: William Plevan|
|Architect(s)||Somerfeld and Steckler|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival|
Founded in 1837, by Polish Jews, Shaare Zedek is the third oldest Jewish congregation in New York City. The congregation originally met at 38 Henry Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In 1850, it purchased a building at 38 Henry Street (still on the Lower East Side) that was originally built by a Quaker congregation in 1828 that had been converted for use as a synagogue by congregationAnsche Chesed in 1840. The congregation replaced this building with a new building on the same property in 1891 and in 1900 opened a branch synagogue at 25 West 118th Street in the newly fashionable neighborhood of Harlem. The building is now a church. The Henry Street building was sold to Congregation Mishkan Israel Anshei Suwalk in 1911.
Shaare Zedek’s present, elaborate, Neoclassical building was designed by the architecture firm of Sommerfeld and Steckler and built in 1922-1923.
Over the years, Shaare Zedek has been home to some of the country’s great rabbis including Philip R. Alstat, Israel Goldfarb, and Isaac Kurtzlow along with such esteemed cantors as Frank Birnbaum and Martin Kozlowsky. Since 2009, the congregation has been led by Rabbi William Plevan. Although Shaare Zedek was the last Conservative synagogue in the area to allow fully egalitarian worship, women now participate in every aspect of the service and the congregation was recently served by a female rabbi. While preserving the traditional liturgy quite closely and committing to a fairly strict observance of Jewish law, the community is generally politically and socially progressive.
Stop 158: Congregation Ohab Zedek (Former)
18 West 116th Street
Congregation Ohab Zedek
Ohab Zedek, sometimes abbreviated as OZ, is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Manhattan, New York City noted for its lively, youthful congregation. Founded in 1873, it moved to it current location on West 95th Street in 1926. The current clergy are: Rabbi Allen Schwartz, Senior Rabbi; and Rabbi Avrohom Moshe Farber, Cantor.
Congregation Ohab Zedek (abbreviated O.Z., and formally known as the First Hungarian Congregation Ohab Zedek), was founded in 1873 on the Lower East Side. The congregation built a synagogue building at 70 Columbia Street in 1881. In 1886 the congregation sold the Columbia Street building to Congregation Ahavath Acheim Anshe Ungarn and moved into the gothic-style synagogue building 172 Norfolk Street that is now the Angel Orensanz Center, the oldest surviving synagogue building in New York and the fourth-oldest in the United States.
116th Street building
|Architectural style||Vernacular Gothic on the interface of Moorish Revival|
|Client||Congregation Ohab Zedek|
In 1906–07 the congregation built and moved into a “monumental” building on 116th Street, in the newly fashionable neighborhood of Harlem. The “monumental” design was influenced by the Gothic character of the previous Norfolk Street home. The street-facing gable prominently featured a large four-centered arch-headed window over a large pedimented doorcase, appearing styled in loose or Vernacular Gothic on the interface of Moorish Revival architecture.
In 1926 O.Z. moved to its present building at 118 West 95th Street; the 116th Street property was sold, eventually becoming the Baptist Temple Church, which occupied the location for over five decades. Conversion into a church removed the Jewish-themed terracotta ornaments.
Costly structural damage necessitated the building’s demolition, which occurred slowly throughout late 2009 and early 2010.
Current building, West 95th Street
The current synagogue building at 118 West 95th Street (constructed in 1926) is noted for its Moorish Revival architecture. Designed by architect Charles B. Myers, the interior features magnificent Mudéjar style plasterwork.
Early today 21st century
Early in the 21st century, the congregation became known for attracting large numbers of orthodox Jewish singles to its services and programs. The congregation published a book in 2005 about its history, First Hungarian Congregation Ohab Zedek, written by O.Z. member Chaim Steinberger.
As of 2013, the senior rabbi was Allen Schwartz and the cantor was Rabbi Avrohom Moshe Farber.
Stop 159: Institutional Institiute (Former)
112 West 116th Street
Herbert S. Goldstein
He was the only person in history to have been elected president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the Rabbinical Council of America (first presidium), and the Synagogue Council of America.
He attended Etz Chaim Yeshiva, Townsend Harris High School, and Columbia University (B.A., M.A.). He also graduated as valedictorian at the (then-more-traditional) Jewish Theological Seminary. He received rabbinic ordination both from Rabbi Shalom Elchanan Jaffe of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, and from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Fights for Jewish rights
He led many fights for Jewish rights, beginning with the fight to expose unscrupulous fraudulent “kosher” butchers, and their powerful backers; fought for the rights of the downtrodden, in many social settings and political arenas, including the successful fight for a historic Minimal Wage Law.
As the founder of the original Institutional Synagogue in 1917, he was one of the creators of the Jewish Community Center idea, certainly within an Orthodox Jewish setting, where prayer was a major component. The synagogue services came first, and then came the gymnasium and theOlympic-size swimming pool. The Institutional Synagogue, in its prime, served approximately 3000 people a day, and had a roster of 67 clubs. As the founder of the successor West Side Institutional Synagogue, he led one of the most influential Orthodox synagogues in the country during its most influential years.
Old Broadway Synagogue
Old Broadway Synagogue
Old Broadway Synagogue
|Location||15 Old Broadway, New York, New York|
|Area||0.1 acres (0.040 ha)|
|Architect||Meisner & Uffner|
|NRHP Reference #||01001440|
|Added to NRHP||January 11, 2002|
Old Broadway Synagogue is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Harlem, New York City incorporated in 1911 under the name Chevra Talmud Torah Anshei Marovi, by an immigrant named Morris Schiff, (Torah Study Society, People of the West Side [of Harlem]) Schiff was a polish immigrant who lived in the Harlem area, an area with a high Jewish population at the time. The temple located at 15 Old Broadway (a rare vestige on Manhattan island of the Bloomingdale Road), the Old Broadway Synagogue is a “vernacular” style synagogue built in 1923 by the architectural firm of Meisner & Uffner. The congregation formed from the mostly Ashkenazic Jewish population of Russian and Polish immigrants to New York during the 1880s who had made their way up to Central Harlem, then migrated to blocks west. The members initially met in storefronts and purportedly in the back room of a bar until the congregation purchased a house on Old Broadway. This structure was torn down shortly thereafter to make way for the synagogue. The congregation had an active Talmud Torah (Hebrew school) probably from its founding until the 1960s or 1970s. Among its early rabbis were the author Simon Glazer and Shepard Brodie. The building is listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Synagogue is perhaps best known today for its late rabbi, Jacob Kret, a former rosh yeshiva (head of a rabbinic academy) in Bialystokand later Ostrow Mazowiecka, Poland. After the division of Poland between Germany and USSR, Rabbi Kret was arrested by the Soviet authorities while attempting to bring his students to relative safety in Lithuania. He was then deported to a Soviet labor camp, and was later released. After the war, Rabbi Kret headed a yeshiva that was in or associated with the Displaced Persons camp in Zeilsheim, a section of Frankfurt. By the time Rabbi Kret became the spiritual leader of the Old Broadway Synagogue in 1950, many of the founding families had moved away. Rabbi Kret recruited Holocaust survivors who were moving to New York at that time to settle in the vicinity of the synagogue. These survivors, many of whom came from Polish Hasidic backgrounds, helped fill the synagogue in the 1950s and 1960s. By the time most of these had moved away, in the 1970s and 1980s, Rabbi Kret had become a mashgiach (kosher food supervisor) in the nearbyBarnard College dining hall as well as a Talmud tutor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America students. As such Rabbi Kret had a deep influence on many Columbia University, Barnard College and Jewish Theological Seminary students until he retired from the Synagogue in November 1997. He died in February 2007.
Since 2000, the Synagogue has attracted young people who live in Harlem and Washington Heights, as well as from Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side. The Synagogue offers a weekly class on Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), a section of the Talmud containing ethical maxims.
Dr. Paul Radensky, Museum Educator for Jewish Schools for the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, is the current president of the congregation and has overseen fundraising and renovations for the Synagogue.