Jewish Center (Manhattan)
The synagogue was founded in 1918 by prosperous Jews moving into the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a neighborhood that was just being built along the new IRT subway line. The large synagogue is located in a tall Neo-Classical building at 131 West 86th Street that contains a large number of social halls, classrooms, auditoriums and offices in addition to the splendid Neo-Classical main sanctuary. The synagogue was the first in America to be built not only to serve as spiritual home to its members, but also as a cultural, social and recreational home. It continues to support a variety of educational and social programming.
The first rabbi was Mordecai Kaplan, who left in 1921 because his positions were too reform oriented for the Orthodox congregation. The congregation then hired Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung, who later became involved in the founding and support of almost every major Orthodox organization in the United States and abroad, including the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, Agudath Israel, Umesorah, Beth Jacob movement (in Poland and the United States) and Chabad. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, later Chancellor at Yeshiva University, took over the pulpit in 1959. The fourth rabbi of the center was Rabbi Isaac Bernstein, an Irish scholar. Rabbi Jacob J. Schachter was rabbi from 1981-2000, and now serves as Resident Scholar at The Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University. Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, founding rabbi of The Jewish Center Young Leadership minyan, and President Elect of Yeshiva University, served as the sixth rabbi of the Center before making Aliyah in 2008.