Monday, November 10, 2008

Jewish Knowledge (7)

Topic: Jewish Tid-Bits Brooklyn #2

According t o legend, Jews from Boro Hall and Williamsburg used to row across the river to New York on Friday afternoon for worship services and return on Sunday. Both groups seem to have tired of the weekend journey in the 1840's, for that is when they began to hold their own services in private homes. Another widely recorded tradition was that, until a minyan of Brooklyn residents could be mustered, arrangements were made for several worshippers to come over from Manhattan every weekend.

In any case, not until the 1850s was there any public worship by Jews anywhere in Brooklyn. In 1851, Kahal Kodesh Beth Elohim, the first Jewish congregation in Brooklyn and as a matter of fact, in all of Long island, was organized by a number of men led by Louis Reinhardt, Elias Adler, Isaac Mayer, Moses Kessel and Isaac Eiseman. The congregation's first reader and cantor was David Barnard, who is listed in Williamsburg's 1849 directory as "Hebrew teacher" and also as "fancy grocer." A rented hall on North 2nd street and what is now Marcy Ave. was Beth Elohim's first house of worship after the congregation outgrew Moses Beth Elohim's first synagogue__the Keap Street Building erected.

This was Brooklyn's second synagogue. The first was dedicated in 1862 at the corner of Boerum Place and State Street by Congregation Beth Israel, which had been formed by the Boro Hall group in 1854 under the leadership of Solomon Furth, Morris Ehrlich, Morris Hess and Marks Marks.

These two pioneer congregations fathered most of the other congregations founded in Brooklyn before the 1880s. In 1921, Williamsburg's Beth Elohim was consolidated with Temple Israel, established in 1869, to form Union Temple. Secessionists from Beth Israel created another congregation, called Beth Elohim, in 1861. Popularly known today as the Garfield Place Temple, this was Brooklyn's first Reform congregation. Other offshoots of Beth Israel were Congregation Ahavath Achim, founded in 1868, and Beth Jacob, organized in Williamsburg in 1867 and later merged with Anshe Sholom. (10)

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