“This was more than a house of worship. This was the portal of a new life in a new land for the largest wave of immigrants ever.”

Bill Moyers


From Ellis to Eldridge

Immigrant history

Many of the founding members of the Eldridge Street Synagogue were immigrants who went straight from Ellis Island to the Lower East Side.  How did they come to terms with American ideas about government, business, entertainment and religion while still respecting Jewish law and traditions? Rather than leaving one way of life behind and adopting another, they created something new that was the result of their experience being Eastern European Jews forming a new community in America.  This new culture was defined by looking back at old country traditions and forward to the freedoms, customs, innovations and even hardships encountered in their adopted home.

Click on the pictures below to look at objects relating to the men and women who came together to form congregation Kahal Adath Jeshurun and erect the Eldridge Street Synagogue, and to see objects from the Lower East Side neighborhood, where they lived, worked and worshipped.