Union Temple of Brooklyn

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Union Temple of Brooklyn
Union Temple glint Eastern Pkwy jeh.jpg
Union Temple, 2012
Union Temple of Brooklyn is located in New York City
Union Temple of Brooklyn
Union Temple of Brooklyn is located in New York
Union Temple of Brooklyn
Union Temple of Brooklyn is located in the United States
Union Temple of Brooklyn
Location17 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn, New York
Coordinates40°40′24″N 73°58′4.5″W / 40.67333°N 73.967917°W / 40.67333; -73.967917Coordinates: 40°40′24″N 73°58′4.5″W / 40.67333°N 73.967917°W / 40.67333; -73.967917
AreaLess than 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built1929 (1929)
ArchitectBrunner, Arnold
Architectural styleClassical Revival
NRHP reference #15000232[1]
Added to NRHPMay 18, 2015

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.

In 2015 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

K. K. Beth Elohim[edit]

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.[2]

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.[3] It is among the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States.[4]

Temple Israel[edit]

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.[2]

Union Temple[edit]

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.[5] 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 old synagogue in Essen, Germany burned by the Nazis.[2]

Victim of anti-semitic hate speech[edit]

On November 1, 2018, events at Union Temple were cancelled after "Kill All Jews" and graffiti was found inside. New York mayor Bill de Blasio said it was "the vilest kind of hate.[6]". Police accused James Polite,[7] a Brooklyn native.[8]

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 5/18/15 through 5/22/15. National Park Service. 2015-05-29.
  2. ^ a b c "History" on the Union Temple of Brooklyn website
  3. ^ American Guild of Organists Archived September 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Gordon, Mark W. "Rediscovering Jewish Infrastructure: Update on United States Nineteenth Century Synagogues", American Jewish History 84.1 (1996) 11–27. 2019 article update.
  5. ^ Applebaum, Diana Muir. "Building Bust, The unbuilt synagogues of the Great Depression", Tablet Magazine (August 20, 2009)
  6. ^ Ryan W. Miller (2 November 2018). "Anti-Semitic graffiti at Brooklyn synagogue prompts event shutdown". USA Today. Retrieved 5 November 2018. Graffiti that read, "Kill All Jews," was found inside Union Temple around 8 p.m. Thursday, police said. "Broad City" star Ilana Glazer was slated to interview journalist Amy Goodman and New York state Senate candidates Andrew Gounardes and Jim Gaughran, the New York Post reported. But audience members were soon sent home. New York mayor Bill de Blasio called it "the vilest kind of hate" and condemned it as a hate crime.
  7. ^ William K. Rashbaum; Ali Winston (2 November 2018). "Ilana Glazer Event at Synagogue Is Canceled After Anti-Semitic Graffiti Is Found". New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2018. The police announced Friday night that they had arrested a 26-year-old man, James Polite, on charges that he wrote the anti-Semitic graffiti. He faces charges of criminal mischief, which the police classified as a hate crime, and making graffiti. Mr. Polite was taken to a hospital in Brooklyn for a psychiatric evaluation. Earlier in the day, the police released a photograph of a suspect, taken by a security camera inside the temple.
  8. ^ Palmer, Emily (14 December 2017). "After Years in Foster Care, Intern 'Adopted' by City Hall Catches a Break". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2018. He was in kindergarten the first time he was pulled from his mother’s home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

External links[edit]