The First Roumanian-American congregation
is an Orthodox Jewish
congregation which, for over 100 years, occupied an historic building on the Lower East Side
, New York
. Those who organized the congregation in 1885 were part of a substantial wave of Romanian-Jewish
immigrants, most of whom settled in the Lower East Side. The Rivington Street
building, built around 1860, had previously been a church, then a synagogue
, then a church again, and had been extensively remodeled in 1889. It was transformed into a synagogue for a second time when the First Roumanian-American congregation purchased it in 1902 and again remodeled it.
The synagogue became famous as the "Cantor's Carnegie Hall", because of its high ceiling, good acoustics, and seating for up to 1,800 people. The congregation's membership was in the thousands in the 1940s, but by the early 2000s had declined to around 40, as Jews moved out of the Lower East Side. Though its building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, the congregation was reluctant to accept outside assistance in maintaining it. In December 2005, water damage was found in the structural beams, and services were moved to the living room of the rabbi's mother. In January 2006, the synagogue's roof collapsed, and the building was demolished two months later.