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The logo for Brooklyn Jewish Heritage Initiative whose mission is to Organize Public Events, Create Oral & Video Histories, Provide Resources to the Brooklyn Jewish Community

Brooklyn Jewish
Historical Initiative

BJHI Brooklyn Tours

Here at the BJHI we have a fascinating assortment of tours to offer you, showcasing different neighborhoods in our fine borough. We have walking tours, biking tours, and bus/van tours. Learn about the Brooklyn Jewish community’s past and present, with our knowledgeable guides.

Williamsburg Synagogue

Williamsburg Walking Tour

You might be surprised to learn that parts of Williamsburg are no longer Jewish, and there are interesting lost synagogues to see there. Join this tour and see a former synagogue in the "Italian" enclave, as well as a pre-1900 former synagogue and others.

Meet your Tour Guide Ellen

Flatbush Synagogue

Flatbush-East Flatbush Biking Tour

This easy-paced biking tour starts at Erasmus Hall High School, one of the oldest secondary schools in the Americas! We will see pre and post WW2 buildings including the former Shaare Torah, with its outdoor sculpture created by noted artist and designer Ludwig Wolpert, as well as two former synagogues on Bedford Avenue.

Meet your Tour Guide Ellen

Prospect Heights Synagogue

Prospect Heights to Western Brownsville Biking Tour

This biking tour begins at the illustrious Brooklyn Museum, and heads east to a few of the most iconic former synagogues and institutions in Brooklyn, including two former theatres (one became a shul, the other was a Yiddish theatre). We will also see the former home of Shaare Zedek by Brower Park, which has evolved into B'SHRT, a congregation in the Prospect Park South neighborhood.

Meet your Tour Guide Ellen

Crown Heights Synagogue

Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights - New Biking Tour!

Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights are ever evolving, with Hasidic communities in various parts, a venerable African-American community, and a growing "hipster" contingent. During this tour we will see former synagogues that vary in size and grandeur.

Meet your Tour Guide Ellen

Brownsville Synagogue

Brownsville-East New York Van Tour

The old Jewish community of Brownsville extended into what is also considered East New York. There are some fascinating former synagogues and schools in this area, including two designed by a notable father-son architecture firm. We will also see a former synagogue that started out as an appetizing store! The tour also includes the legendary former New Lots Talmud Torah (aka "The Cong") and Thomas Jefferson High School.

Meet your Tour Guide Ellen

Victorian Flatbush

Victorian Flatbush Walking Tour

The Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn is a picturesque area renowned for its magnificent Victorian mansion houses. The walking tour will take about two and a half hours; get to know the historic district, admire its striking 19th-century architecture. It includes a visit to Beth Shalom Emeth Reform Temple (BShERT). It is a merge of a number of reform congregations over the decades. Temple Beth Emeth was founded in 1911 by a woman, Hannah Hirsch. The sanctuary is a beautiful, art-deco design completed in 1913-1914; it has been used on an episode of "Law and Order" and most recently, the HBO series, "The Plot Against America."

We will pass another synagogue, Temple Isaac which was the Flatbush Christian Church in 1910. There is also, the American Islamic Albanian Mission. It is around the corner of BShERT and has been there since 1972. Also around the corner from BShERT is the home used in the major motion picture, "Sophie's Choice," in 1982.

And much more about the history of this NYC Landmarked neighborhood!

For everyone's safety during the of COVID-19 pandemic, the Victorian Flatbush walking tour will be limited to just 10 people.

Meet your Tour Guide Ron

Ellen Levitt

Meet Your Tour Guide - Ellen Levitt

As lifelong resident of Brooklyn, Ellen Levitt is the author of six books, including The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013), all published by Avotaynu, the scholarly publisher of Judaic history and genealogy titles.

Meet Your Tour Guide - Ron Schweiger

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ron Schweiger is the official Brooklyn Borough Historian, appointed in 2002 by then Borough President Marty Markowitz. A teacher, he has conducted walking tours, bus tours and given lectures of Brooklyn’s historic neighborhoods and famous Brooklynites for 37 years. Learn More