Congregation Shomrei Emunah (Borough Park)

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Basic information
Location 5202 14th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Country United States of America
Architectural description
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
Completed 1910

Congregation Shomrei Emunah (Hebrew: קהל שומרי אמונה‎) is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue located in Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York. Founded in 1907, the congregation moved into its present edifice in 1910. Its current spiritual leader is Rabbi Aviezer Cohen.

History[edit]

Congregation Shomrei Emunah was established in 1907[1] by a group that included a number of Torah scholars.[2] It published its bylaws on September 3, 1907.[3] In the beginning, services were held in a Masonic hall at New Utrecht Avenue and 56th Street. In 1910 the congregation constructed its own building at the corner of 14th Avenue and 52nd Street. The imposing, yellow-brick edifice designed in Romanesque Revival style features a large skylight over the bimah (reader's platform).[4]

The subsequent founding of Beth El, Congregation Anshei Sfard, and Bnai Yehuda drew membership from Shomrei Emunah, leading to the latter's sobriquet as "The Mother of Jewish Institutions" in Boro Park.[2] Congregation members also played a role in the establishment of the Yeshivas Etz Chaim (the neighborhood’s first day school) and the Israel Zion Hospital (today Maimonides Medical Center).[2] In the early years of the congregation, the Chofetz Chaim had advised Torah scholars traveling to America that they should turn to Shomrei Emunah upon their arrival. Rabbis who have addressed the congregation include Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook[2] and Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz.[2]

Rabbinic leadership[edit]

The synagogue installed its first rabbi in 1926.[2] From 1928 to 1935 the spiritual leader was Rabbi Wolf Gold,[2] a founder of the Williamsburg Talmud Torah and Mesivta Torah Vodaas.[5][6] From 1935 to 1973, Dr. Harry I. Wohlberg, a professor of Bible and homiletic literature at Yeshiva University, was the synagogue rabbi.[7] Wohlberg was the first rabbi to receive a lifetime contract from an American Orthodox synagogue.[2] Thereafter, the synagogue was led by the renowned Rabbi Yaakov Pollack. Since 2008, the synagogue's spiritual leader is Rabbi Aviezer Cohen, who was educated in the Brisker tradition.

Activities[edit]

The synagogue made a name for itself in the Borough Park community with its strong emphasis on Torah study. In 1918 it founded a Chevra Shas (Talmud study society) and afterwards introduced other study groups on Bible, Mishnah, Midrash, Ein Yaakov, Chayei Adam, and Rif.[2] In 1935 it inaugurated a Chevra Mishnayas U’Gemilas Chesed, which combines group study of Mishnayos with the distribution of interest-free loans to individuals and organizations.[2] The emphasis on Torah study made the synagogue popular among former yeshiva students and residents interested in continuing their study of Torah and halakha (Jewish law) on Shabbat and during their free time; it also made the synagogue a popular stopping-point for visiting European Torah scholars.[2]

In response to news of the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938, Shomrei Emunah held a public gathering "where FDR was praised for his stance on behalf of Jews".[8]

In 2009 the synagogue was targeted for an anti-Jewish protest by members of the Westboro Baptist Church led by Fred Phelps.[9][10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Green, Ada (28 June 2004). "Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Writers Project / Survey of State and Local Historical Records (1939) / Church Records Jewish – Synagogue". Jewish Genealogical Society. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Summer, Morton (1954). Synagogue and Community In Boro Park. Yeshiva College Yearbook - Masmid. p. 83. 
  3. ^ "Constitution and by-laws of the Congregation Shomrei Emunah". S. Levine & Sons. 1907. 
  4. ^ Israelowitz, Oscar (2000). Synagogues of New York City: History of a Jewish Community. Israelowitz Pub. p. 122. ISBN 1878741446. 
  5. ^ Sherman, Moshe D. (1996). Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 78. 
  6. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica. 7. Keter Publishing. 1972. p. 697. 
  7. ^ "Dr. Harry I. Wohlberg". The New York Times. 7 February 1984. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  8. ^ Mazzenga, Maria, ed. (2009). American Religious Responses to Kristallnacht. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 180. ISBN 0230623301. 
  9. ^ Chapman, Ben (24 September 2009). "Kansas Church Travels to Bklyn to Target Jews in Hate Rally". New York Daily News. crownheights.info. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Statements To YWN From Hikind, Felder Regarding Hate-Group Protest In Boro Park This Shabbos". Yeshiva World News. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 

Coordinates: 40°37′55″N 73°59′31″W / 40.63200°N 73.99201°W / 40.63200; -73.99201