While your recent article on the Chabbad Movement's discovery of Hoboken shed some light on their mission and presence in our community, your reporter overlooked Hoboken's rich Jewish history and the thriving community in our midst, including the United Synagogue of Hoboken, heir to over one hundred years of Jewish settlement in Hoboken.
Hoboken's first Jewish settlers arrived in the 1860's from Germany along with Lutherans, Dutch Reform, Catholics and others. Congregation Adas Emunah was founded during the 1860's as Hoboken's first synagogue or temple as the Reform Movement then and now often named congregations. Its former edifice still stands on the east side of Garden Street between Sixth and Seventh Street. When its members and the congregation itself relocated to Leonia in the 1960's, the building became a Pentecostal church until the nineties when it "converted" to a more recently popular Hoboken "religious" movement, "Condominiumism."
The United Synagogue of Hoboken has been fortunate to receive a number of stained glass windows from the Adas Emunah building's developer during its transformation to residential use. Those windows will eventually be incorporated in the historic restoration of the Star of Israel building of the United Synagogue of Hoboken. We will thus help preserve the memory of the Adas Emunah congregation.
When my wife Marilyn and I moved to Hoboken in 1974, the United Synagogue of Hoboken became the spiritual home where we re-connected with our traditions. Although the congregation had, by then, been dwindling for some time, we saw a bright future for Hoboken and ourselves. For us, our love affair with Hoboken and the "Shul" remains as fresh for us as the day we climbed the PATH stairs from our previous life in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. We have enjoyed every moment playing and living our part of sustaining Jewish traditions and values. It has been with much joy that we have formed and continue to enjoy relationships both secular and spiritual with many of our neighbors and friends; lay members and leaders of many Hoboken churches and their clergy, agnostics, atheists and the totally unaffiliated.
Between the Civil War and World War II, Hoboken was home to five synagogues. The pogroms of Europe and the promise of the American Dream brought thousands of Jews to Hoboken between 1870 and 1945. The three principal orientations to Jewish spiritual life were a vibrant presence in Hoboken: Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, Hoboken's Jewish community could choose among five houses of worship. They were: Congregation Adas Emunah (Reform), the Moses Montefiore Synagogue (Orthodox), the Grand Street Synagogue (Orthodox), the Star of Israel Congregation (Orthodox) and the Hoboken Jewish Center (Conservative). After World War II, Hoboken's hard times and the appeal of the suburb saw the rapid decline and closing of all but three of Hoboken's synagogues. In 1948, the Star of Israel Congregation at 115 Park Avenue merged with the Hoboken Jewish Center at 830 Hudson Street to form the United Synagogue of Hoboken.
Today, the United Synagogue flourishes. We can hardly believe that so many of our dreams for our little congregation are being realized. From being the youngest couple in an aging group of senior citizens in the 1970's, we can now hold the babies of new families rooting and raising their children in Hoboken. In 1998, the United Synagogue sold its aging and rapidly fading brownstone at 830 Hudson Street. With the proceeds, the United Synagogue's youthful and growing membership mounted a successful capital campaign to build a 4,000 square foot annex to the Star of Israel building at 115 Park Avenue. Our Kaplan Learning Center hosts a pre-school, after school Hebrew classes, bar and bat mitzvah classes, adult education and the Jewish Family and Counseling Center until its recent relocation to quieter office space down the block. Our annual auction and cabaret are sellouts. During any given week, visitors to 115 Park may observe a choir deep in rehearsal, a vibrant Karate class, Hebrew conversation groups, toddler groups preparing for Shabbat through song, dance and prayer, a Cub Scout Pack working on a project, etcetera, etcetera. Programs are open to members and non-members. Of course, there is a full schedule of religious services from weekly Sabbath or Shabbat services to the annual cycle of Jewish festivals and holidays.
Our gifted rabbi and teacher, Robert Scheinberg, leads services often also led by knowledgeable members. He teaches and speaks throughout Hoboken and Hudson County. The United Synagogue of Hoboken is noted for its warm, participatory and welcoming style. Our active young adult programming is also a magnet for many young professionals settling in Hoboken.
While we value the sincerity of our Chabbad "shaliach" or messenger seeking to awaken greater appreciation or a Jewish lifestyle among the unaffiliated, we encourage the Reporter to dig a little deeper in the future when covering the Jewish scene in Hoboken.
Past President (and Cheerleader)
United Synagogue of Hoboken