European migration of the late 1800s,
one-third of all Eastern European
Jews set sail for the United States.
The vast majority settled in New York
City, and most lived in the crowded
tenements of the Lower East Side.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue, completed
in 1887, is the first house of worship
they built in America.
its wooden seats, and your eye will
be drawn to the original, hand-carved
walnut ark, and then upward along
the towering stained glass windows
and seventy-foot vaulted ceilings.
As you listen to the rich stories
of your tour guide, you can almost
hear the echo of the 1,000 worshippers
who regularly gathered there for
high-holiday service -- including
actors Edward G. Robinson and Paul
Muni, and the inventor of the polio
vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk. In the
roaring 20s, tighter immigration
laws slowed membership, and the
sanctuary closed in the 1950s. The
not-for-profit Eldridge Street Project
was incorporated in 1986 to restore
the long neglected building to its
original grandeur. Today the group
provides educational and cultural
programs all year-round for adults
and children of every age group