Author Ellen Levitt will speak on the lost synagogues of Brooklyn at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York on Sunday, December 20.
The program begins at 2pm, at the Center for Jewish History.
Jewish life in Brownsville, East New York, Flatbush-East Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant and other nearby areas of Brooklyn through the 1950s was a lively, rich and varied environment. Over the next few decades it dissipated rapidily. As Jews moved to other areas, they left behind their synagogues.
A Brooklyn native and public school teacher, Levitt’s book on these former synagogues demonstrates what happened to them and how they appear today. She photographed 91 of these buildings.
In 1999, she took photographs of a former synagogue near the Sears in Flatbush. Formerly Kesser Torah (Crown of Torah), where her mother and her aunt attended Hebrew School, it became a church. For some years the church retained a few old synagogue symbols, including the corner stone with the founding date, and the name “Kesser Torah” in Hebrew. When she went back to reshoot photos there in July 2004 these were gone, painted over, sheered off.
Over the years she searched out former synagogues in Brooklyn – “ex-shuls” – to take their photos and seek out what Jewish symbols still peek through. Many of them have become churches. Others are now day care centers, community centers, or simply shells. The Jewish population of certain Brooklyn neighborhoods has for the most part vanished (East Flatbush, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, etc.). The buildings hang on in different incarnations.
A book-signing will follow the program.
Come early to use the CJH’s Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute, which will be open 12:30-1:45pm for networking and access to research materials and computers.
Filed under: Book, JGS, New York, Photographs, Synagogues |