October 10, 2005
OHNY - Synagogue Circuit
Beth Hamerdresh, pictured in the first four photos, was built in 1850, originally as a Baptist church. In 1885, after a period as a Methodist church, it was bought by orthodox Russian Jews and converted. There are murals on the walls that depict several towns in Israel. A fire has damaged the synagogue and they are in the process of raising money to restore it.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue, pictures 5-7, was built in 1887 and one of the first built in the US by Eastern European Jews. It's already being restored and repaired with the bulk of funding from the city in the form of grants that total $2.9 million. Major improvements, besides roof repair, include the installation of an HVAC system.
These are beautiful photos though not all of the impressive Beth Medrash HaGadol. The lead-in photo of the a Rose window and skylights, as well as the two last photos in the series are of another Lower East Side synagogue - the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue. Eldridge Street, the first great house of worship built in America by East European Jews, is a National Historic Landmark that is being restored by the non-sectarian Eldridge Street Project (for which I work). Interesting, Beth Medrash Hagadol and Eldridge Street share a history - They were both formed by the first Russian congregation in America, Beth Medrash. That congregation had a split in the mid 1800s, one group formed Beth Medrash HaGadol (Beth Medrash the Great); the other formed K'hal Adath Jeshurn, the congregation that established the Eldridge Street Synagogue.
Amy Stein Milford, Communications Director
Eldridge Street Project
Posted by: Amy Milford at October 9, 2006 11:59 AM
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