gallin Remembrance of Synagogues Past - The Lost Civilization of the Jewish South Bronx
Synagogue Organized Dedicated
Congregation Kehilath Israel 1904 1924

Non-Synagogue Type
Tremont-Crotona Day Care Center daycare

1594 Crotona Park East
at East 173
Bronx, NY 10460
The building is currently a daycare center.

small - medium - large - full

Personal Impressions

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

I attended Hebrew school in a very vital synagogue called Kehilath Israel. For many years the synagogue was located at Jackson Avenue and Boston Road. The senior rabbi was Dr. Elias Solomon and Rabbi Louis Finkelstein was his associate. When the synagogue moved, Dr. Louis Finkelstein was the rabbi. He was a distinguished rabbi who later became president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. His sermons were outstanding. I have fond memories of the old and new Kehilath Israel. My Bar Mitzvah took place in the old and my sister was married in the new.

The first shul I remember was Kehilath Israel on Jackson Avenue...I attended Hebrew school for one year sometime before 1926. That year the congregation moved to Crotona Park East. In December, 1926, my sister was married in the new quarters with Rabbi Finkelstein officiating.

My son was Bar Mitzvahed at K.I. A man came to the house to give my son Bar Mitzvah lessons. It was an Orthodox synagogue. Women sat upstairs only.

Dead bodies were brought into the synagogue. The rabbi said the eulogy and the prayers.

There was a separate youth group at K.I. There were separate services and we were a social group as well.

On the high holidays, many young people stood outside in the late morning. Teenagers walked from synagogue to synagogue in the area. We would say, 'We're walking to the next shul. Do you want to come along?'

At one time, the president was Isaac Polack who was born in Rochester, England in 1861.

I remember the High Holy Days and the streets crowded with families on their way to the synagogue, wearing their new Rosh Hashonah outfits. On Simchas Torah, the children ran up and down the steps of the synagogue waving their flags. Funny, as I look back, everyone seemed to be smiling.

I remember an old man who wore a high hat and a formal cutaway jacket every Saturday.

At K.I., the president of the shul wore a top hat on Shabbos and spoke with a British accent.

Normally, I was relegated to the balcony with my bubba and other females. On Eres Simchot Torah, I was allowed to stay with my father and brother on the main floor and enjoy the parade of paper flags, topped with apples and candles.

I was married in K.I. We had the reception downstairs. The caterer forgot to serve the coffee.

I can still smell the wonderful aromas and recall the excitement, the shopping for new clothes around holiday seasons. I've just accepted the fact that them days are gone forever. Our kids and grandchildren have been deprived of something far more precious than what we have materially given them.

The Hebrew School took the students to see a professional baseball game at Yankee Stadium. First, the visiting team batted, and next the home team came to bat. After the home team was out, the visiting team came to bat again. The rabbi (who was the principal of the school, and who was not born in the United States) got up and told the students that it was time to leave, we saw this one already. The students patiently explained to him that the only thing that had ended was the first inning. And the next eight innings were not intended to be a duplicate of the first inning. The rabbi graciously took our word for it and we stayed to see the whole ballgame.