In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

It has often been said that nowhere in the United States can onefindagreatercollectionofmagnificentandhistoricsynagogues than on New York’s Lower East Side. As the ultimatedestinationformillionsofimmigrantEasternEuropean Jews during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries , it became the new homeland and hoped-for goldene medinah (promised land) forimmigrants fleeing persecution, poverty, and oppression, while struggling to live a new and productive life. A third of Eastern Europe’s Jews left for North America; four out of five descendants trace their “roots” to this pivotal neighborhood. The impact of the Lower East Side on these immigrants’ lives can be seen in howtheirpresencetransformeditsstreetsandbuildingsinto one of the densest parts of the globe by 1911. This new and completely revised book includes both archival photographs by Jo Renée Fine from the original 1978 edition, as well as a series of contemporary photographs by Norman Borden that illuminate the status of Lower East Side synagogues today, bringing the story of these magnificent buildings up to date fora new generation of readers. The first Jews to arrive in North America were the Spanish and Portuguese Jews (Congregation Shearith Israel— “Remnant of Israel”) who landed in New Amsterdam in 1654, long before the waves of immigrants from Eastern Europe. These Sephardic Jews (from Sepharad, the Hebrew word for “Spain”) were descendants of Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula priorto theirexpulsion, typically duringtheInquisitionthatbeganin1492 .Later,SephardicJews arrived from other countries along the eastern Mediterranean —Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, and other Balkan nations. Ashkenazi Jews, meaning Jews originally hailing from Western Europe, had trickled into New York in the mid- to late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By 1800, New York City’s Jewish population numbered around four hundred people. Until 1825, there was only one synagogue in New York City, the Mill Street building of Congregation Shearith Israel (1730), where Sephardic rituals were observed . In 1825, the first Ashkenazic congregation, B’nai Jeshurun, was founded on Elm Street (a now demapped northernextensionofwhatistodaycalledElkStreetinlower Manhattan) by a group of English and Dutch members who broke away from Shearith Israel. In the 1820s to 1840s, German-speaking Jews from a variety of areas in Western and Central Europe came to the United States. With the political and economic turmoil in GermanspeakingareasinEuropeinthe1840sand1850s ,theGermanintroduc tion 1 18317-Wolfe_Synagogues 9/24/12 12:05 PM Page 1 JewishpopulationinNewYorkincreaseddramatically.While New York’s German Jews identified as part of a larger German-speaking community that was mainly Lutheran, they created their own cultural and religious organizations such as B’nai B’rith and began to build synagogues. There wasalsoasizableRomanCatholic(primarilyBavarian)presence in Lower Manhattan. The neighborhood, centered largely on Tompkins Square, became dominantly German and was often called Kleindeutschland or“Little Germany.” By 1846,anewcongregation,AhawathChesed(LoveofMercy) founded by Bohemian immigrants, began worshipping on Ludlow Street in a part of the area that laterbecame known as the LowerEast Side. With the advent of the Haskalah or “Jewish Enlightenment ,” the Reform movement took a stronghold in the German-Jewish community and by 1845, the first Reform Jewish synagogue in New York, Temple Emanu-El, was founded at Grand and Clinton Streets. Subsequently, the nearbycongregationAnscheChesedwasformedby1850.In 1853,theOrthodoxGerman-JewishcongregationofRodeph Sholomwasfounded,havingoriginatedwithanearliergroup, calledBikkurCholim(VisitingtheSick),whichwasfoundedin 1842. By 1855, New York arguably had the third largest German -speaking population (both Christian and Jewish) of any city in the world, outranked only by Berlin and Vienna. By the 1860s, the German-Jewish community was prospering and by the 1880s, when the first large waves of Ashkenazic Eastern European Jews arrived in New York, there were approximately 85,000 Jews living in New York with many living comfortable middle-class lives and some possessing considerable affluence. To assist these new arrivals, German-Jewish philanthropic and otherorganizations provided social and transitional services that, at the same time, attempted to delineate and define an American Jewish landscape forthe recently arrived co-religionists. As the Orthodox Eastern European Ashkenazi immigrants arrived in even greater numbers, cultural, linguistic, and class differences caused dissension with the more established Reform German Jews. As the metropolis of New York expanded, the Germans of the Lower East Side—both Jewish and Christian—typically moved to more affluent uptownneighborhoods.AstheGermanJewsdepartedfrom the LowerEast Side, two prominent formerGerman-Jewish synagogue buildings became home to Eastern European Orthodoxcongregations—denotingachange inthe neighborhood . By 1880, while more than 90 percent of American synagogues were affiliated with the Reform movement, thosecongregationsdidnotreflectthetraditionalOrthodox JewishvaluesheldbytheEasternEuropeanimmigrantpopulations who resided on the Lower East Side. In fact, the populationoftheLowerEastSideincludedasizablenumber of Hasidim, followers of a branch of...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.