gallin Remembrance of Synagogues Past - The Lost Civilization of the Jewish South Bronx
Synagogue Organized Dedicated
Hebrew Institute of University Heights 1925

1835 University
at West Tremont
Bronx, NY 10453
The building is currently abandoned.

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Personal Impressions

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Services were held in a tent on Andrews Avenue until the synagogue was occupied.

Rabbi Simon Kramer was the rabbi. He came from a Chicago Yeshiva and later returned to Chicago. The rabbi started a yeshiva at the synagogue.

There were over 1500 people who attended Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur services. Services were held upstairs and in the basement on the holidays. Children's services were held downstairs on Saturdays.

My boys were Bar Mitzvahed at the Institute.

When we disbanded, the congregation gave the building away to a drug rehabilitation center rather than sell it to a church.

The bima was in the center of the synagogue. The man who read the torah was a rabbi from Europe.

My father was one of the founders and was its president for a long time. My husband was also president for several years. I was married there and my two sons were Bar Mitzvahed there.

The Hebrew Institute is now located in Riverdale (The Bronx) at 3700 Henry Hudson Parkway East and is led by Rabbi Avraham Weiss.

I received my Hebrew training and was Bar Mitzvahed at the Hebrew Institute. The temple was beautiful. I attended from 1956-1960. Mr. Weinglas was the Hebrew School Principal.

Although I disliked attending Hebrew School after regular school, I am somewhat grateful that I can read Hebrew, and to this day, I appreciate the depth and beauty of Judaism.

I remember the very large tent on Tremont and Andrews Avenue that was used for the High Holy Days before the synagogue was built.

My grandfather bought the golden key to open the doors at the dedication of the building. My father blew the shofar there until his death.

Rabbi Kramer was the second rabbi there. Almost all the young women in our family were married there by Rabbi Kramer. The public schools were so overcrowded (no date was given as to the exact year) that parents appealed to Rabbi Kramer to start a day school. The building was large with many classrooms, gym, kitchen, etc. After considerable negotiations with the Board of Education, Akiba Academy was founded with only a kindergarten. Each year another grade was added until it had a full eight year school. Akiba still exists in Riverdale.

The last time I saw the Institute I cried as it was neglected, windows were broken and graffiti was all over the building.

I have many wonderful memories of the Hebrew Institute and its people.

I was chairman of the board of Akiba Hebrew Academy for 18 years.

Salanter Yeshiva, Riverdale Hebrew Academy and Akiba combined to form SAR Academy in Riverdale. We purchased the Toscanini estate and erected the present building.

I remember the morning of my Bar Mitzvah. I lived in 1911 University Avenue. The rabbi lived in 1895. My father took my brother and me and we started to walk up the block to the shul. While we were walking, I saw the rabbi who was walking with his son and his elderly father (also a rabbi). Naturally, the rabbi's father walked very slowly. I, in my excitement, wanted to get to shul. I remember my father pulling me back and making sure we walked slowly behind the rabbi. When I asked for an explanation, he said that the rabbi was very important and he didn't want to show disrespect by arriving before him.

I loved the High Holy Holidays because the whole world used to come. Once I became a teenager, I never went inside the shul. I loved seeing the kids and adults from all over who I hadn't seen all year. In the afternoon we would walk to other synagogues in the area and get a chance to meet new kids.

I remember, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, visiting my uncle Morris, who was a vice president in the shul. He had his spot and I would come up and sit with him for awhile. I remember men opening snuff boxes, giving me candy and feeling that I was swallowed up in the giant tallaisem. I liked listening to the rabbi's sermons. It was a great social studies lesson.

I was raised in the Bronx and went to Hebrew School and was Bar-Mitzvahed in Hebrew Institute of University Heights. The rabbi was Rabbi Kramer and the chazan was Cooper (I don't know his first name.) I was Bar-Mitzvahed in April, 1937.

My most moving memories were of Cantor Flussberg. He had a marvelous voice and when he hit a high note, the chandeliers vibrated.

We have wonderful memories of the Hebrew School teachers. My children's favorite was Mrs. Saltz who retired and went to live in Israel.

There are many former members who still maintain a friendship though we left the area more than 25 years ago.

I was Bar-Mitzvahed at Hebrew Institute. My family were members from 1923 until after the end of World War II. The rabbi was Simon Kramer for all those years. Our president at that time was Max Schneider, who later became president of the Bronx. I still feel a bit nostalgic about the good old days when some of the worshipers would walk up and down the center aisle and doven along with the Chazen Mr. Kirschner.

I remember that Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed our rabbi (Simon G. Kramer) as an ambassador of a sort during the late 1930s to help relocate Hitler's outcast Jews.