May is Jewish American Heritage Month. The National Register of Historic Places is pleased to promote awareness of and appreciation for the historical accomplishments of Jewish Americans. We showcase historic properties listed in the National Register and National Park units commemorating the events and people that help illustrate Jewish Americans' contributions to American history.
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St. Thomas Synagogue--Beracha Veshalom Vegemiluth Hasadim
Photograph courtesy of Virgin Islands Historic Preservation Office
St. Thomas Synagogue--Beracha Veshalom Vegemiluth Hasadim
Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands
The Synagogue of St. Thomas, called Beracha Veshalom Vegemiluth Hasidim (Blessing and Peace and Acts of Piety), built in 1833 in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas Island, is the second oldest and longest in continuous use synagogue in the United States. The congregation, originally Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic Jews, came to the Caribbean Basin to finance trade between the Europe and the New World. Commonly referred to as the St. Thomas Synagogue, it is located on the southeastern slope of Denmark Hill in one of the older residential areas of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin islands, to the north of the town’s main business district.
New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society Synagogue and Creamery Site
Village of Chesterfield, Town of Montville, Connecticut
The New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society Synagogue and Creamery Site, located in the town of Montville, Connecticut, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 28, 2012 for both its historical and archaeological significance. The site includes the foundation remains of the synagogue, its associated mikvah, and a stone well, the foundation remains of the former creamery building (later converted into a dwelling and inn), a stone well, a barn, and several retaining walls.
Previously Highlighted Jewish American Heritage Properties
Photograph courtesy of United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a31794
Louis Brandeis House, Barnstable County, Massachusetts
Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941) was the first Jewish person to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to the Supreme Court on January 28, 1916, Louis Brandeis was already nationally known for his progressive views. Due at these views and ethnicity, his appointment aroused a storm of protest among large segments of the nation’s legal establishment. None the less, he was confirmed and took the oath on June 5, 1916. His name first became nationally known with the publication in 1914 of his book Other People’s Money and How the Banker’s Use It, which critiqued corporate power in the early 20th century
Hebrew Orphan Asylum, Baltimore, Maryland
The history of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum site spans nearly 200 years from its beginning in 1815 as “Calverton,” the country home of Baltimore banker Dennis Smith. An 1874 fire destroyed the Calverton mansion, and led to the construction of the present building, which was specifically designed as an orphanage and was dedicated in 1876.
Chevra B’nai Yisroel Synagogue, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa
Designed by local architect, J. Chris Jensen, the Chevra B’nai Yisroel Synagogue reflects the congregation’s orthodox origins in its original design, with later remodeling reflecting the subsequent changes in the congregation’s religious outlook and traditions. The congregation associated with the Chevra B’nai Yisroel Synagogue in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was originally affiliated with Orthodox Judaism, later with Conservative Judaism, and most recently with Reconstuctionalist Judaism.
Jewish Shelter Home, Multnomah County, Oregon The Shelter Home provided the Jewish immigrant district a certain continuity and support –the Shelter Home allowed Jewish children of disrupted family backgrounds a Jewish upbringing which they quite possibly would have missed had they been placed in a state-operated orphanage. In the course of a year, 18 to 20 children would pass through the house; each staying whatever time was necessary. This process was extremely important to the maintenance of Jewish culture and society in South Portland.
Park Circle Historic District
Park Circle Historic District in Baltimore, Maryland was an early suburban Jewish neighborhood developed when the children of Eastern European immigrants moved from East Baltimore to the city's northwest outskirts, setting the pattern for further expansion of Baltimore's Jewish community to the northwest.
Beth Sholom Synagogue (Elkins Park, PA)
was one of a handful of Wright buildings singled out in 1959 by the American institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Albert Einstein in 1921
Photograph by Ferdinand Schmutzer
Mill House (Orange County, NY)
In 1710, Luis Moses Gomez, the son of a well-to-do Jewish immigrant merchant, and a member of one of the foremost Jewish families in colonial New York, began to purchase land in Ulster and Orange Counties, finally acquiring about 2500 acres. On this tract of land Gomez constructed a stone house, the original section of the present Mill House, to accommodate his fur trading business with the American Indians.
Albert Einstein House (Princeton, New Jersey):
Albert Einstein, considered the greatest physicist of all time and named in 1999 Time Magazine’s Person of the Century, was born to Jewish parents in Ulm, Germany in 1879. Although most famous for his theory of relativity (and specifically mass-energy equivalence, E=mc²), he was also known as an international advocate of peace, human rights and an early supporter of a homeland for the Jewish people.
Historic Synagogues of Connecticut:
In 1818 a constitutional convention in Connecticut resulted in the disestablishment of the Congregational Church as a tax-supported institution. At this time less than a dozen people of the Jewish faith were known to live in Connecticut. Jewish public worship was not permitted in Connecticut until 1843.
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