The Eldridge Street Synagogue was one of the first synagogues to be built in the United States by Jews from Eastern Europe. Designed by two brothers and built on Eldridge Street in 1887, the synagogue’s mission was to serve the Kahal Adath Jeshurun Congregation and it became an architectural landmark commented by the press, thanks to its Moorish-inspired facade.
Over the years, the synagogue began to function not only as a house of worship, but also as a kind of acculturation agency, welcoming new Americans and helping them adapt to their new community. And for fifty years, the Eldridge Street Synagogue was quite popular. However, the immigrant quota limited the number of arrivals and the Great Depression affected its fortune; the synagogue started to be used less frequently, until it became empty and isolated.
In 2007, after 20 years of renovation and work, and being considered a "National Historic Landmark" in 1996, the synagogue reopened to the public as a museum ("Museum at Eldridge Street") and since then it has been showing visitors its former cultural and educational mission. The Museum offers tourists some of the history of American Jews and, from time to time, it’s the stage of some Jewish religious celebrations.
Cool Tip: If you want to know more about how the Jews have settled in the United States, don’t forget to visit the Tenement Museum as well.