Bintel Blog

The New Yorker Goes to Shul

By Daniel Treiman

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Adam Gopnick of The New Yorker has a nice report on the recently restored Eldridge Street Synagogue. The story features some colorful historical background on the majestic Lower East Side landmark, which was founded in 1887 (making it 10 years older than the Forward):

“The synagogue was the first grand gesture on the part of the Eastern European Jews who were arriving in New York,” Annie Polland, the house historian, explained the other day, as final touches were being put on hand-stencilled wall decorations. “Until then, the new congregations took over old Protestant churches. Eldridge was built not just as a statement to the neighborhood but as a statement to the German Jews uptown.” Central Synagogue, on Lexington Avenue, and an earlier edition of Temple Emanu-El, on Grand and Clinton Streets, had already opened; Eldridge, downtown, was defiantly grand, and insistently “Orthodox,” a word that was already in use. “When you bought a seat to pray at Eldridge, the contract promised that if the congregation ever allowed organ music, or men and women singing together in the choir, you’d get double your money back,” Polland said. “It was a strong anti-Reform statement.”


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