History

“On April 24, 1887, at a meeting of male persons of full age belonging to society of Congregation of the ‘Sons of Israel’ for the purpose of incorporating the same which meeting was held at rooms over No. 6 Church Street in the City of Amsterdam, New York.”

So begins the story of our Congregation. The Jewish community in Amsterdam had already established itself, including starting a Reform Congregation, Temple Israel, in 1873. Sons of Israel was begun 14 years later by a group of Orthodox Jews. Initially the group was small and had no formal headquarters. Services were held in the homes of its members. The congregation rented halls for the High Holy days.

It was not until 1908, twenty-one years after its founding, that a permanent home was purchased, a white house on Grove Street. Later, in 1914, the Congregation moved to a building on the corner of Grove and Liberty Street, the former Germanic Hall. Sons of Israel remained at this location for 60 years.

The religious development of our congregation followed the recognized pattern of countless American Synagogues. Though it had been originally organized on traditional Orthodox foundations, it incorporated over time many more modern concepts. In 1945, we joined the United Synagogues of America, the national organization of Conservative Congregations.

1949 marked the arrival of Samuel A. Bloom as our Rabbi. He, together with his wife Eleanor, tirelessly labored on behalf of local Jewry and the community at large. He was heard over WCSS radio regularly for 30 years, served as President of the Greater Amsterdam Clergy Association, and served as President of Amsterdam’s United Way Campaign. Eleanor served as Executive Director of United Synagogue of America for the Empire Region, and served on the Board of the National Jewish Youth Directors of America.

In 1976, Congregation Sons of Israel moved into its present home on Guy Park Avenue.

In 1988, the synagogue suffered the tragic loss of both Eleanor Bloom and our beloved Rabbi of 39 years, Samuel Bloom. It was a loss not only felt by our Jewish community but by the entire Amsterdam community. The Amsterdam Recorder described Rabbi Bloom as a “wise teacher, a good man,” who “helped break the chains of hypocrisy and prejudice in Amsterdam,” and left a “living legacy that through understanding and cooperation all things are possible.”

In 1989 the Congregation began to utilize the services of student Rabbis who travel up from New York City twice a month to provide weekend services and the major festivals. On weekends when the Rabbi doesn’t join us, leaders of the Congregation run our regular services. We are proud to see ourselves as a teaching synagogue, where young Rabbis can get experience in reading Torah, giving sermons and sharing a congregation’s joys and sorrows. Our Rabbis have helped us through both Bar Mitzvahs and funerals with grace and respect.

 


To read about our 120th anniversary, click here to read “Synagogue celebrates 120th anniversary” in The Recorder, October 4, 2006.

For some words from Rabbi Samuel A. Bloom upon the move of the synagogue to Guy Park Avenue, click here to read “What the Synagogue Symbolizes.”

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: