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About the Collections

The partners have selected materials relating to members of the congregations: membership lists, synagogue seat deeds, cemetery records, wedding records, Sunday school documents, account books, financial, property and trustee records, benevolent society records, sisterhood documents, account books and aliyah (synagogue honors) books. These papers also document document the socio-economic levels and immigrant identities of the diverse steams of Jewish newcomers to New York City during this period. The stories that emerge from these documents recount the experiences of recent arrivals, their challenges, and of communities migrating from neighborhood to neighborhood.

There are selected digital records from five New York Synagogues:

Shearith Israel was founded by Sephardic (Spanish) Jews who came to America as early as the 17th Century [1654]. In continuous existence over 350 years, it still serves Orthodox worshippers in the Sephardi rite in its Upper West Side building. AJHS holds an early part of its collections. Selectively digitized records include:

  • Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century financial, property, and trustee records. Financial records consist of statements of accounts, receipts, and a list of offerings; property records include land indentures for the Mill Street synagogue and the land adjoining the Jews' Burying Ground. Trustee records contain meeting reports, resolutions, lists, and correspondence.
  • Items of the oldest Jewish benevolent society [Burial society] in New York City.
  • Chatham Square Cemetery, pre-1850 cemetery records and the Cemetery Register (includes diagram and tombstone inscriptions) 1894

Congregation B'nai Jeshurun – the second synagogue was founded in New York City in 1825 by a group of Jews who broke off from New York's first synagogue, Shearith Israel, and was the first in the city to use the Ashkenazic ritual. It was the ninth to be founded in the United States. B'nai Jeshurun’s current location is on the Upper West Side.

The digital material includes 19th Century records cemetery records, cash books and correspondence regarding burial plots, memorial books, registers of deaths, synagogue seat deeds, wedding books, and annual general meeting minutes.

The Kane Street Synagogue, Baith Israel-Anshei Emeth was founded in Brooklyn in 1856. It is the oldest continuously operating synagogue in Brooklyn. Over the years, the synagogue’s name changed reflecting its physical location in different neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Digitized documents include minutes of membership meetings and Sunday school documents.

Ansche Chesed was officially founded in 1876 and moved three times before its present location on West End Avenue.

Digital documents include membership records and board of director’s minutes from the period between 1876 and 1900.

The Eldridge Street Synagogue (Congregation Kahal Adath Yeshurun with Anshe Lubitz) records, undated, 1873(?)-1933. East European Ashkenazi Jews from Lubitz founded the first iteration in 1873 in time for the High Holidays of 1887. The building also continues to be home to Kahal Adath Jeshurun, a small Orthodox congregation. Digitized materials include:

  • Account Book: Allen Street Shul 1883-7 - This covers the accounts of the congregation from 1883-1887. These records cover the years the congregation started paying for Eldridge Street Synagogue, buying the lots 12-14-16, hiring architects, paying the masons, organizing a stone-laying ceremony in November 1886, taking out ads to sell seats, and selling seats. Additionally, the records offer a window into the day-to-day operations of the synagogue: their purchase of spittoons, hiring of policemen for Rosh Hashanah, hiring a choir, building a door for the mikvah they had at the Allen Street Shul, and paying for the building and construction at Eldridge Street.
  • Book of Aliyas 1905-1907. This is the earliest Aliyah book in the collection at AJHS, naming people who received honors in the synagogue service. It lists all the congregants who bought seats (along with their addresses in some cases), how much each person donated for an aliya, and what honor each person received.