Poile Zedek Synagogue

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Poile Zedek Synagogue
Polie Zedek Synagogue in fall 2011
Poile Zedek Synagogue is located in Middlesex County, New Jersey
Poile Zedek Synagogue
Poile Zedek Synagogue is located in New Jersey
Poile Zedek Synagogue
Poile Zedek Synagogue is located in the US
Poile Zedek Synagogue
Location145 Neilson Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey
Coordinates40°29′39″N 74°26′31″W / 40.49417°N 74.44194°W / 40.49417; -74.44194Coordinates: 40°29′39″N 74°26′31″W / 40.49417°N 74.44194°W / 40.49417; -74.44194
Area1.1 acres (0.45 ha)
ArchitectBach, Harry; Frieman, Morris
Architectural styleRomanesque
NRHP reference #95001189[1]
Added to NRHPOctober 25, 1995

Poile Zedek Synagogue is a historic synagogue at 145 Neilson Street in New Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States.

The congregation was founded in 1901 by a group of merchants in downtown New Brunswick's Hiram Market district. Originally named the Independent Sick and Death Benefit Association of New Brunswick, the congregation moved to its current location in 1905 and at some point began using the name Poile Zedek ("Workers of Righteousness").[2] The cornerstone ceremony was held for a new building on August 19, 1923, and the building was completed in 1924.[3] In 1995 the building was placed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.[4]

On Friday afternoon, October 23, 2015, a massive fire broke out in the synagogue, gutting the building.[5] The fire is believed to be accidental.[5]

2008 cemetery vandalism[edit]

In January 2008, almost 500 gravestones at Poile Zedek's cemetery (also used by Congregation Etz Ahaim, a Sephardic congregation founded by Jews from Salonica) were damaged in an incident of vandalism.[6] Four local teenagers were charged[7] and later sentenced to probation and community service in a juvenile court proceeding.[8]

2015 fire[edit]

The Poile Zedek Synagogue, New Brunswick, NJ, on the evening of October 23, 2015, having been thoroughly gutted by fire.

According to police, a large fire broke out on the first floor of the synagogue on October 23, 2015 at around 4:30 p.m., destroying all but the exterior of the building.[5] One Sefer Torah was rescued by the rabbi before the roof collapsed.[9] According to the congregation's rabbi, the external structure remains sound and the building may eventually be repaired.[10] Religious documents and scripts damaged by the fire were later buried in the affiliated cemetery.[11]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Poile Zedek Synagogue, September 19, 1995.
  3. ^ "PHOTOS: Massive Fire Breaks Out In Historic Orthodox Shul In New Brunswick NJ". The Yeshiva World News. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  4. ^ "National Register of Historic Places". nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Officials: Fire That Destroyed New Brunswick Synagogue Appears To Be Accidental". CBS Local. 24 October 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  6. ^ Adarlo, Sharon (January 8, 2008). "Destruction at Jewish cemetery probed as bias incident". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  7. ^ Capuzzo, Jill P. (January 11, 2008). "4 Youths Arrested in Vandalism at Jewish Cemetery in New Jersey". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  8. ^ Rothman, Carly (March 17, 2008). "Middlesex teens sentenced for desecrating Jewish cemetery". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  9. ^ Russell, Suzanne (23 October 2015). "Rabbi rescues Sefer Torah from burning New Brunswick synagogue". Courier News. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  10. ^ Russell, Suzanne (26 October 2015). "Rabbi of fire-damaged New Brunswick synagogue looks to rebuild". Courier News. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  11. ^ Napoliello, Alex (22 November 2015). "Torahs destroyed in historic synagogue fire laid to rest". nj.com. Retrieved 23 November 2015.