Landmarks in NYC. Central Synagogue Is One Of The Oldest Jewish Temples In US

Landmarks in NYC. Central Synagogue Is One Of The Oldest Jewish Temples In US
Isabel del Rio
Landmarks in NYC. Central Synagogue Is One Of The Oldest Jewish Temples In US

Central Synagogue. Exterior

Landmarks in NYC. Central Synagogue at the corner of Lexington and 55th, Manhattan, is the oldest synagogue in continual usage in New York City. It’s inspired by Budapest’s Dohány Street Synagogue, which pays homage to the Jewish existence in Spain during the Middle Ages.

Designed by Henry Fernbach of Germany, it was executed in an eclectic, rough-hewn Moorish style, called “Moorish-Islamic Revival,” popular for synagogues of the late 1800s. Spectacular polychrome brick with stone trim and internal cast iron frame are the main materials.

The synagogue was built by Congregation Ahawath Chesed, a German Reform congregation meeting under that name on Ludlow Street from 1846. At the beginning, they had doubts about the dramatic style of the temple because some felt that its excess would inspire envy. But the building is a landmark of the city today, in spite that Central Synagogue was the subject of much debate during the construction.

Its exterior is absolutely exotic. The frontage of Central Synagogue is dominated by two octagonal towers rising 122 feet, which honor Solomon’s Temple. The towers are topped onion-shaped, green copper domes. And it’s especially beautiful its large rose window accompanied by many smaller arched Windows combining colors.

Landmarks in NYC. Central Synagogue Is One Of The Oldest Jewish Temples In US

Central Synagogue. Interior

Its interior is colorist. It has beautifully stenciled designs of red, blue, and ochre, and colorful plates published by the English designer and colorist, Owen Jones. Cast iron columns separate the inside into three sections.

Central Synagogue of NYC was restored by 2001 in the original style after an accidental fire in August 1998. Fortunately, firefighter’s sensitivity for the iconic temple saved all but the central pane in the rose window that dominates the eastern (Lexington Avenue) wall. The marble plaques on the north wall of the foyer honor the firefighters of the 8th Battalion of the New York City Fire Department.

”That building was built by 140 people who had no resources, who simply had a vision… ‘We will rebuild that building… We have work to do, and we shall do it.” Rabbi Rubinstein encouraging people to find strength by looking into the synagogue’s history.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 15, 1975. On Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m. a docent conducts a free tour, which begins at the front entrance.

Definitely, if you go to Manhattan, don’t miss Central Synagogue… It’s absolutely amazing and for a moment, you can think your are in an Oriental city… Maybe Jerusalem?

Enjoy your day, Yareah friends. Art is everywhere and up to you!

Adress: Central Synagogue (Reform Jewish). 652 Lexington Avenue at 55th Street. New York, N.Y. 10022.

Video: Central Synagogue in NYC.

If you have the chance, visit Central Synagogue in NYC:

Docent Tours of the Sanctuary:

Free tours of the Sanctuary by Central Synagogue docents are given every Wednesday at 12:45 pm*. Reservations are not necessary. Independent tour groups are not permitted during this time.

*Please note that tours do not take place on major religious or federal holidays.

Visiting Groups:

Groups interested in attending worship services should contact the Clergy Study at 212-838-5122 x1000.


Central Synagogue provides for full access to visitors with unique needs. The entrance ramp is located on 55th Street, just off Lexington Avenue. Spacious restrooms are also accessible by elevator.

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