SYNAGOGUES







SYNAGOGUES such as the Eldridge Street Synagogue (1886-1887) are very much a part of the Lower East Side neighborhood which was settled by European Jews.  The synagogue was a mecca from many immigrants, both Jewish and Christian, who could get a free meal there and may have heard about the free meals as they were coming through Ellis Island.  Dutch Jews played an important role in establishing synagogues and schools in New York City.

The Eldridge Street Synagogue was designed by architect, Giorgio Cavaglieri, who incorporated Moorish, Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles.  The landmark synagogue has rich woodwork, bright frescoes and stained-glass windows.  The electric lights in the sanctuary were originally gas lights.  The 12 circles in the stained glass window (bottom photo) represent the 12 tribes of Israel.  

For many years the synagogue was in great disrepair, but in December 2007, remarkable restoration work was completed on the synagogue which is now both a synagogue and a museum and a National Historic Landmark as well.  As custom in an Orthodox congregation, there are separate seating areas for men and women (the women sit in the balcony or gallery level and the men on the synagogue's ground level).  However, the women got the best view looking down at the entire synagogue. 

The window above the altar was damaged in a storm during the 1940s.  Recently a new window, designed by artists, Kiki Smith and Deborah Gans, was installed.