Union Temple of Brooklyn
The Union Temple of Brooklyn is a Reform synagogue located at 17 Eastern Parkway between Underhill Avenue and Plaza Street East in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, across the street from the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It is the result of the merger of two nineteenth century congregations, K. K. Beth Elohim and Temple Israel.
The building was designed by Arnold Brunner and completed in 1929 as the community house for a planned temple next door, which was never built because of the Great Depression; the 11-story building has been used for the congregation's worship since, except, in the past, on High Holy Days, when the Brooklyn Academy of Music was utilized. In 1942, a theatre in the building was remodeled to be a sanctuary.
K. K. Beth Elohim
Founded in 1848 by German and Alsatian Jewish immigrants living in the village of Williamsburgh, K.K. Beth Elohim was the first Jewish congregation established in Brooklyn and the first on Long Island. It is a member congregation of the Union of Reform Judaism.
The congregation first worshiped in a private home on Marcy Avenue. In 1860 a former church building on South First Street was purchased and remodeled for use as a synagogue, it was afterwards used as a school offered elementary education in English and German, in both secular and religious subjects. The school closed when public education began in Brooklyn.
A new synagogue was built on Keap Street south of Division Avenue in 1876. Known as the Keap Street Temple, for many years it was the largest synagogue in Brooklyn. It is among the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States.
Temple Israel was founded in 1869, until 1872 services were held in the Y.M.C.A. building on the corner of Fulton Street and Galatin Place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In that year the congregation purchased a former church building on Greene Avenue. Temple Israel dedicated a larger and more magnificent new building on the corner of Bedford and Lafayette Avenues in 1891.
Temple Israel and K.K. Beth Elohim merged in 1921, deciding to erect a new temple in the newly fashionable location of 17 Eastern Parkway (Brooklyn). Plans were drawn up by Arnold Brunner for a Classical temple with an adjacent eleven-story community house. The community house was erected first, and dedicated in 1929. Because of the Great Depression, the planned Temple was never built. Instead, the congregation continued to worship in the Community House. During the High Holy Days the congregation worshiped at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 1942, the theater on the ground floor of the Community House was remodeled as a sanctuary, designed after the synagogue in Essen, Germany burned by the Nazis.
- "History" on the Union Temple of Brooklyn website
- American Guild of Organists
- Gordon, Mark W. "Rediscovering Jewish Infrastructure: Update on United States Nineteenth Century Synagogues", American Jewish History 84.1 (1996) 11–27
- Applebaum, Diana Muir. "Building Bust, The unbuilt synagogues of the Great Depression", Tablet Magazine (August 20, 2009)
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