history

Download United Synagogue of Hoboken: The First 100 Years, the book we created for our centennial in 2005, including historical articles, photos and documents about our community.

See the video:
Our Miracle: the revival of a Jewish Community, the restoration of an historic synagogue

See some historical documents.

As the only Synagogue in Hoboken, New Jersey,
today the United Synagogue of Hoboken gives living expression
to over 135 years of Jewish settlement in our community.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Hoboken was a major immigration port, and the Port of Embarkation for the Allied Forces in World War 1. Many local commercial and retail businesses were owned by Jewish residents of Hoboken, who probably numbered over 3,000 men, women and children. Jewish life in Hoboken was at its peak just after World War I, when there were six synagogues.

TWO COMMUNITIES UNITED

The United Synagogue of Hoboken was organized in 1947 through the union of the Hoboken Jewish Center -- founded in the 1920's as a Conservative congregation -- and the Congregation Star of Israel -- organized in 1910 as an Orthodox congregation.

830 Hudson St. The Hoboken Jewish Center was established by former members of the Star of Israel seeking a more liberal environment in the then-emerging Conservative movement. They purchased, occupied, and renovated a circa-1890 brown stone residence at 830 Hudson Street, adding a 120-seat sanctuary, gymnasium, and offices; and upstairs residences, occupied by the rabbi and the rabbi's family, a Learning Center teacher, and, at times, a caretaker.

In the 1940's and '50s, the upper floors were used as Hebrew School classrooms. From 1947 until 1997, 830 Hudson Street served as the United Synagogue of Hoboken's office, social and educational center, and rabbinical residence.

Facade of 115 Park Ave. The Star of Israel Congregation built and occupied in 1915 a beautiful sanctuary and social hall at 115 Park Avenue. The building exemplifies traditional European 19th century synagogue architecture and sanctuary design. Its classic lines, extraordinary acoustic qualities, historic wood, murals, and stained glass finishes offer members and visitors a truly beautiful and inspiring place for prayer, study and celebration. In the 1960's and '70s, the building was only used for High Holy Day services, as Shabbat services and most community functions were held at 830 Hudson Street. (For information about the restoration of the Star of Israel, see Restoration)

RESURGENCE OF HOBOKEN JEWISH LIFE

Post-World War II suburbanization reduced the community's size to less than 300 by the early 1970's. In the 1980's, however, the community began to experience a resurgence, as young Jewish singles, couples, and families began to move into Hoboken and neighboring towns. In the late 1980's, the Children's Learning Center was founded to provide supplementary Jewish education to the children of the congregation.

The United Synagogue of Hoboken engaged part-time rabbis with orthodox smicha until the early 1980's. Since then, its pulpit has been occupied by graduates of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In 1985, the United Synagogue of Hoboken embraced an egalitarian policy, and soon thereafter became formally affiliated as a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. In 1989 the congregation hired Rabbi Stephanie Dickstein, one of the first women graduates of the Rabbinical School of JTS.

OTHER HOBOKEN JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS

From the 1930's into the 1960's, Hoboken boasted active chapters of the Hadassah, Histadrut, Pioneer Women, Zionist Organization of America, and an annual Israel Bond Campaign.

We witnessed in the 1990's a remarkable revival of both shul-centered and community-wide Jewish religious and cultural activity. A young and vigorous section of the National Council of Jewish Women was established and carries on an active program of events and community service projects. The United Synagogue of Hoboken was instrumental in the re-organization of the Jewish Family Service of Jersey City, Bayonne, and Hoboken; Hoboken had never before been a part of this well-established social service organization.

The United Jewish Communities Young Leadership Division conducts the annual UJC Campaign in Hoboken.

A special group has arisen in the past few years, an outlet for Jewish young adults (in their 20's and 30's) to meet and connect with other Jewish young adults in the greater Hoboken area.

SYNAGOGUE ACTIVITIES AND ATMOSPHERE

The Rabbinical leadership represents the Jewish community through participation in the Hoboken Clergy Coalition, and also among Hudson County's Jewish clergy. The synagogue has received a number of grants and awards for innovative programming.

In recent years, our Children's Learning Center has steadily grown to a current enrollment of over 100 children. The Learning Center has been the recipient of grants from the Hordes Foundation of Hudson County. A full program of adult education classes is also offered. The last ten years have brought an influx of young adults to Hoboken, including large numbers of Jewish singles in their 20's and 30's. A very diverse and transient Jewish population challenges the congregation's ingenuity and creativity to embrace all who come: young, old, traditional, and alternative lifestyles.

Shabbat and Festival services are remarkable for their degree of member participation and leadership. Over the years, a small core of long-time members with synagogue, cantorial, and Jewish communal leadership skills has taught those skills to others, producing significant numbers of members prepared and qualified to lead services, read Torah, chant Haftorah, lead discussions, and deliver D'vrei Torah. Children, even if sometimes noisy, are always welcome in the sanctuary during services.

THE NEXT STEP

Sanctuary -- USH In 1997, the historic decision was made to sell the aging Jewish Center building at 830 Hudson Street, using the proceeds to partially fund an addition to the Star of Israel building at Park Avenue to include classroom and office space and elevator access to all floors. An extraordinarily successful capital campaign, spearheaded by loyal and generous members of the community, enabled us to raise the necessary funds for this project, which was dedicated in the Spring of 2000 as The Kaplan Family Learning Center.

A second campaign successfully raised enough funds to renovate the Star of Israel sanctuary and social hall. Re-dedication of the Star of Israel took place at Hanukkah, 2011. A wonderful film was made about our history and the process of restoration. We also applied to and received designation as United States Historical Property and New Jersey Historical Property.

We are now in the process of replacing windows in the sanctuary with stained glass, designed and created by Susan Klein, with the help of members of the congregation. Up-to-date information on the status of the stained glass is available on this website.

HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

Letterhead stationery from the early years of the Star of Israel Association (before 1915, because it lists the address as "111 Grand Street")

Document recording dues and donations, 1915 (in Yiddish)

Announcement of an open house for the Hoboken Talmud Torah (religious school) at 79 Grand Street (in Yiddish). It appears to be an event for community leaders to see the achievements of the kids, to gain an understanding of what is being accomplished with the communal funds that have been invested in Jewish education in Hoboken. It is signed, "The Board of Education." (Sign was printed at "J Dubin Up-To-Date Printer, 361 Newark Street, Hoboken NJ")

RABBIS -- PAST and PRESENT

1997 - Present Rabbi Rob Scheinberg For Rabbi Scheinberg's sermons and D'vrei Torah, see the Rabbi's Page.
Contact Rabbi Scheinberg.
1995 - 1997 Rabbi Lia Bass
1989 - 1995 Rabbi Stephanie Dickstein
1987 - 1989 Rabbi Kenneth Katz
1982 - 1987 Rabbi Jeff Marker
1980 - 1981 Rabbi Mark Urkowitz
1974 - 1980 Rabbi Alex Pronman
115 Park Avenue, Hoboken, NJ 07030
201-659-4000