Congregation Ahavas Israel is a 120 year-old synagogue located in the Greenpoint Historic District in North Brooklyn, New York. The synagoguge holds Sabbath and holiday services, all of which are followed by communal meals. It also organizes classes by visiting rabbis and scholars, and hosts Hanukah and parties as well as other communal events. Ahavas Israel is the only remaining Jewish congregation in a neighborhood that once supported five synagogues.… Read More »Congregation Ahavas Israel
After years of watching synagogue members die or move away, the Sephardic Jewish Center of Canarsie made the difficult decision to downsize.
The 50-year-old Brooklyn synagogue had been a thriving center for the area’s Sephardim. But after accepting that it could no longer pull together enough money to cover expenses, let alone muster the 10 men necessary for daily prayer, the synagogue disposed of most of its belongings and began holding Shabbat services in a nearby Ashkenazi congregation.
But what to do with its prayerbooks? The center owned several hundred volumes in the Spanish-Portuguese liturgical style — some tattered, some like new and some belonging to older members that may have had significant worth.
“We donated some to a local shul, but we had to get rid of a lot of them and bury them,” said Rabbi Myron Rakowitz. “It was difficult because we didn’t just want to throw them out or claim them unusable. We want other people to use them, to give them purpose when we no longer can.”
What to do with old books is a growing problem for synagogues across the United States.
1012 Avenue I, Brooklyn
The Young Israel was established on December 6, 1921 and held its first Synagogue Shabbat Services on March 3, 1922. In its many years of existence, we have been active on several fronts. The Young Israel was instrumental in providing assistance in rescue efforts for our suffering brethren during the Holocaust, financial aid during the early years of our beloved State of Israel and in its wars of existence, and support to our brothers behind the Iron Curtain. Here at home, we have been the leading Congregation in the community – the force behind the creation of the local Mikveh, the Gemilut Chassadim Organization and the Greater Flatbush Eruv. We have also assisted local Yeshivot, Rabbinic Courts and the needy of our community. In addition to being open all day, every day, we have provided a myriad of services to our membership, including religious and educational enrichment, youth and outreach programs and social activities.
by Ellen Levitt
Brooklyn has a large number of synagogues, and they come in many varieties. You can easily find various types of Orthodox shuls,as well as Conservative, Reform, non-denominational; Ashkenazi and Sephardi. Congregations with perhaps a bare minyan and others with a few thousand members. But for all the synagogues Brooklyn has within its midst, it has also seen many synagogues disappear. Some have merged with other nearby congregations while others closed up, their members and assets dispersed. Dozens of shuls have been closed up and the buildings torn down, other structures erected on their lots. Other closed synagogues still exist in a bittersweet fashion: their buildings still stand but the sites are now occupied by churches, schools, medical facilities, or even serve as private residences.
I have been documenting these “lost synagogues” of Brooklyn, as well as in the other NYC boroughs and Governors Island, for more than a decade. In my 2009 book The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn, published by the scholarly press Avotaynu, I offer photos and text about more than 80 former synagogues. Read More »Brooklyn’s “Lost Synagogues”
Brooklyn’s oldest Orthodox and Williamsburg’s last non-Hasidic Orthodox Synagogue, Congregation Beth Jacob Ohev Shalom (CBJOS), will hold its first-ever model Seder this Sunday to mark the upcoming celebration of Passover.
The model Seder is a way for the Rodney Street Synagogue to reintegrate the Jewish community in North Brooklyn and specifically to reach out to the influx of people who have recently moved into the neighborhood, as well as to introduce the Jewish culture, history and traditions to those who might not necessarily be devout practitioners of the faith.
Author, tour guide and veteran teacher Ellen Levitt has created and conducted two bicycle tours for the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative. A lifelong resident of Brooklyn, and the author of the trilogy The Lost Synagogues of New York City (Avotaynu), Levitt conducted her tour “Lost Synagogues of Greater Brownsville”, on Sunday, June 14; and her tour “Lost Synagogues of Flatbush and East Flatbush,” on Sunday, August 2. Levitt led groups… Read More »BJHI Bike Tours
Steven Margolis Branford CT 12/30/2012 I have several remembrances going back to the 60’s of my time at the JCH of Bensonhurst. I am from New Haven – the New Haven JCC and the “J” had a fierce basketball rivalry. I was captain of the New Haven JCC varsity basketball team. When I stepped off the bus after the two and one half hour ride from New Haven I saw a… Read More »JCH of Bensonhurst
Submitted by Judith Greenwald Among our early members was Civil War hero Brigadier-General Leopold C. Newman. At the age of 22, already a lawyer and engaged to be married, he volunteered for duty in the 31st New York Infantry Regiment. Newman fought in seventeen engagements and was promoted for valor to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. On May 3, 1863 he led his company in the charge of Mary’s Heights in… Read More »Kane Street Synagogue’s Heroic Congregant