Led by the prominent Rabbi Herschel Schacter for more than five decades, it now houses the Msgr. Boyle Head Start program.
Built in 1849, this is the oldest surviving synagogue building in New York.
This church, whose community outreach programs included a soup kitchen that fed up to 10,000 people per month, was gutted by a fire in 2010. The flames incinerated part of the verse from Micah (which read "The Lord's voice crieth unto the city") that covered the frieze, revealing the words "Concourse Center". Like many churches in the Bronx, this one was once a synagogue: the Concourse Center of Israel.
This former synagogue, built in 1903, has served as studio and residential space for artists since 1973.
The former Tremont Temple/Congregation Gates of Mercy
What is now the Grand Concourse Seventh-day Adventist Temple was originally Temple Adath Israel, one of four synagogues that once stood on a single block of 169th Street back in the days when the South Bronx was majority Jewish.
Second Saint James Church of Christ, née Congregation Ahavas Achim B’nai Abraham. In converting this shul to a church, these guys went so far as to cover over the Ten Commandment tablets up near the top of the building, giving them the appearance of the twin towers.
At first, I assumed this was another churchagogue. But then I noticed that there were no Christian symbols on the building, and that the Jewish motifs of the old Talmud Torah Atereth Israel had seemingly all been retained, and perhaps even augmented: the entrance gate topped with the Star of David looks like it might be a recent addition. It turns out that the organization to which the Tabernacle belongs, the Church of God and Saints of Christ, is, despite its name, a denomination of Hebrew Israelites.
Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel Romanian Orthodox Church, formerly Congregation Ahavath Achim
This one's past is pretty well concealed, but the architecture and the covered-over inscription at the top of the building are good clues that it was originally a synagogue. (Here's where you can confirm such hunches. Just look up this address — 276 Buffalo Avenue.) Apparently, the church across the street used to be a synagogue as well, but it doesn't have any of the tell-tale signs (or at least none of the ones I'm familiar with).
Back in Harlem's Jewish days, this building (currently New Bethel Way of the Cross Church of Christ) was home to Congregation Shaare Zedek. Completing the Abrahamic triad, the AIA Guide to New York City says: "Fanciful forms borrowed from Islamic architecture grace the façade of what, in another culture, might have been a harem."
The Jamaica-Queens Wesleyan Church; formerly Young Israel of Laurelton
Mount Olivet Baptist Church, formerly Temple Israel, is one of many churches inhabiting old synagogues here in Harlem. There are still several visible vestiges of the building's original occupant, such as the Stars of David on the column capitals.
Built in 1906, today's Baptist Temple was originally home to Congregation Ohab Zedek (photo), which in 1912 "thrilled worshipers" by hiring the renowned European cantor Yossele Rosenblatt. (Last year we passed by Congregation Anshe Sfard, where Mr. Rosenblatt was later employed.) The following "classic Rosenblatt shtick" shows the great regard in which the famed tenor (a few of whose recordings you can listen to here) was held:
A young cantor billed himself as "The Third Yossele Rosenblatt."In 2009, concerns about the building's structural stability led to part of its facade and roof being torn down. Google Maps has a cool new feature that allows you to see all the Street View images taken at a certain place over time; you can use it here to see what the Baptist Temple looked like before its partial demolition and during its subsequent reconstruction.
"And who," he was asked, "was the Second Yossele Rosenblatt?"
"Feh!" he replied in disgust, "Everyone knows there could be no Second Yossele Rosenblatt!"
This churchagogue was once home to the Woodruff Avenue Temple. A subtle vestige of the building's past can still be found above the doorway, where the "JESUS SAVES" cross is attached to two shapes that resemble the tablets of the Ten Commandments, but the Jewish origin of the structure was much more apparent just a few years ago, as you can see.
This was the childhood house of worship of Ellen Levitt, Queen of the Churchagogues. Her discovery that it had become a church, while still retaining visible traces of its Jewish past, sparked her interest in the subject:
I have located, photographed, researched, and documented the stories of nearly 280 lost synagogues – buildings that once were shuls, are shuls no longer, yet remain standing. There are many other synagogues that are completely gone, but I have chosen to focus on those whose shells remain.
Why did I pursue this? In April 1999, I decided to see what had become of the synagogue I had attended as a little girl. Once known as Shaare Torah, in Brooklyn’s Flatbush section, it had morphed into the Salem Missionary Baptist Church. I snapped photos of the site, on East 21st Street and Albemarle Road, because it still had Jewish [menorahs] on the front railing. The shul’s name [in Hebrew] was still there, alongside an artistic rendering of the burning bush created by the renowned sculptor Ludwig Wolpert.
It used to be a church, at least. What you can't quite see in this photo, but which is much clearer from the other side, is that the facade is the only part of the structure still standing. The rest, erected in 1870 by St. Ann's Roman Catholic parish (the church became St. Ann's Armenian Catholic Cathedral in 1983), was demolished in 2005 to make way for the 26-story NYU dorm standing behind it, the tallest building in the East Village. (Not long after the dorm was put up, the City Council approved a rezoning plan limiting building heights in the area to about 12 stories.)
This was actually an example of history repeating itself, to a degree. The extant facade dates to 1847, when the original church on the site was built by the 12th Street Baptist Church. (The building later became a synagogue, home to Congregation Emanu-El.) But in 1870, leaving the facade in place, St. Ann's tore down the rest of the structure and replaced the sanctuary with a new one, which was then in turn replaced by the dorm some 135 years later.
As you might imagine, many neighbors and preservation-minded people were upset with the destruction of the church's body and the subsequent construction of such a bland-looking behemoth in its place. I like the overall effect though, specifically the weirdness of there being a 19th-century stone church facade standing, for no apparent reason, in front of an insipid 21st-century apartment tower. The facade is now effectively a piece of public sculpture and something of an architectural folly (meaning "a whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, commemorate a person or event, etc."), which I think probably encourages more passersby to interact with it than ever did with the church when it was still intact.
This building, the former Temple of Israel, was erected in the early 1920s after a fire destroyed the congregation's previous home — "the first permanent house of worship for the large Jewish population in the Rockaways" — which had been constructed on this site around 1900.
Mount Neboh Baptist Church, formerly the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and originally the synagogue of Congregation Ansche Chesed, is perhaps the only house of worship in the city to have served as a full-time home to Jews, Catholics, and Protestants.
(I would argue that the other church mentioned here as having served all three faiths, St. Ann's Armenian Catholic Cathedral, doesn't really count. For one thing, it no longer exists: its sanctuary was demolished in 2005, leaving only the facade standing. But even before that, the original sanctuary used by the Protestants and the Jews was itself demolished and replaced with a new one by the Catholics, so the three faiths never actually worshiped under the same roof.)
Iglesia Bautista El Mesias, the former Temple Sons of Jacob
Fresh Anointing International Church, the former Conservative Synagogue of Jamaica Estates