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Introduction to the Five Synagogues Website

The synagogue is the traditional prayer and meeting space for Jewish communities. The history of New York synagogue life is an essential piece of New York City history. It tells the story of the Jewish immigration and the continuity of Jewish life in the “New World” from the 18th century until today.

Over the years, three significant Manhattan Jewish communities—Shearith Israel, B’nai Jeshrun, and Ansche Chesed—moved from the Lower East Side to Harlem, midtown, and the Upper West Side. The Kane St. Synagogue remained in its original neighborhood in Brooklyn and the Eldridge Street Synagogue stayed at its original location; the latter has been designated a National Historic Site. Each of the five communities was comprised of immigrant populations that arrived from Europe and settled in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The combined collections of these synagogues, from 1730 until the beginning of the 20th century, document the lives of people and communities that are all still vibrant today.

Collection Highlights