Blown away a few weeks ago by this off-the beaten path American landmark. The Museum at Eldridge Street housed inside the Eldridge Street Synagogue.
It is at once oversized with character and stunningly intimate. It’s simultaneously the living footprint of immigrant old-world New York and breathtakingly fresh for eyes never seen. I’m rarely surprised by anything in the Big Apple yet this sanctuary, every inch photographic and historic, left me in awe.
It’s the most “churchy” Jewish house of worship I’ve ever seen and I love that. It’s nod to the ornate is a result of the synagogue being an innovation in New York and in America when it was built in the very late 1800s. It was bold and grandiose in the sense that Jews who were fleeing persecution in Europe could finally declare proudly this is where we worship this is where we are free.
A somewhat funny anecdote carved into the benches is the “trefoil” symbol. That marker generally captures the Christian theme of the Trinity but back then the builders likely, unknowingly, purchased them from an outlet selling church benches because that was all that was available.
It was groundbreaking. No real temples had been build in the US before.
NY always ahead of its time.