Ohab Zedek Synagogue, Harlem 1906-

Ohab_ZedekA southern view of the enormous Ohab Zedek Synagogue, at 18-20 West 116th Street in Harlem, New York 1906. Jonathan Gill writes on Harlem Bespoke that Ohab Zedek, started out on the Lower East Side and attracted many Hungarian Jews. They moved to Harlem in 1906, building a Gothic/Tudor structure on 116th Street, just west of Fifth Avenue, that was an effort to reproduce the look of their downtown home—which had originally been a church. Unlike some other uptown synagogues Ohab Zedek clung to orthodox ways, refusing to install an organ and rejecting mixed seating. Stricter observance practices clearly appealed to many uptown even after the turn of the century.

In 1912 the synagogue hired the most famous cantor in the world, the Ukrainian-born Josef (Yossele) Rosenblatt.

yossele_rosenblattIn 1912, the synagogue hired the Ukrainian-born Josef (Yossele) Rosenblatt, the most famous cantor in the world. He was so famous letters addressed to “Yossele Rosenblatt, America” reached him in Harlem. Rosenblatt’s voice was so magnificent that it attracted tourists, including many non-believing Jews. He also became a star, singing not only Jewish music from Carnegie Hall to vaudeville, and was offered $100,000 to play the role of Al Jolson’s father in The Jazz Singer.

IMG_20140325_175416the funeral on sholem aleichemIn the book The World Of Sholem Aleichem, by Jeremy Dauber, on May 15th, 1916, Sholem Aleichem the author of Fiddler on the Roof had one of the largest funerals in the history of the New York City, with a crowd estimated ranging from between 150,000 and 270,000 people. Where the pictures show the procession controlled by the police.

As for Ohab Zedek, it moved to 18 West 95th Street, on the Upper West Side, in 1926. Since 1938 the building has been owned by the Baptist Temple Church, started by a group that split off from Mount Olivet Baptist Church in 1899.

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