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Beth Hamedrash Hagadol

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Basic Information

Location 60 Norfolk St, Manhattan, NY 10002, United States
Country United States
City New York

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://www.nycjewishtours.org/site_hamedrash.htm
Geographical Coordinates 40.71703,-73.98777


Summary

Beth Hamedrash Hagadol (Hebrew: בֵּית הַמִּדְרָש הַגָּדוֹל, "Great Study House") is an Orthodox Jewish congregation that, for over 120 years, was located in a historic synagogue building at 60–64 Norfolk Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. It was the first Eastern European congregation founded in New York City and the oldest Russian Jewish Orthodox congregation in the United States.


History and time period

Founded in 1852 by Rabbi Abraham Ash as Beth Hamedrash, the congregation split in 1859, with the rabbi and most of the members renaming their congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagadol. The congregation's president and a small number of the members eventually formed the nucleus of Kahal Adath Jeshurun (also known as the Eldridge Street Synagogue). Rabbi Jacob Joseph, the first and only Chief Rabbi of New York City, led the congregation from 1888 to 1902. Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, one of the few European Jewish survivors to survive the Holocaust, led the congregation from 1952 to 2003. The congregation's building, a Gothic Revival structure built in 1850 and purchased in 1885, was one of the largest synagogues on the Lower East Side. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. In the late 20th century the congregation dwindled and was unable to maintain the building, which had been damaged by storms. Despite their obtaining funding and grants, the structure was critically endangered. As of 2008, the Lower East Side Conservancy has been trying to raise an estimated $4.5 million for repairs, with the intent of converting it to an educational center. The congregation, reduced to around 20 regularly attending members, was sharing facilities with a congregation on Henry Street.


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