Day 10

Synagogue turned church

January 9th, 2012



One of many in the South Bronx

Day 22

Gates of Righteousness

January 21st, 2012



Currently Historic First Church of God in Christ

Day 32




this one is actually a church.

Day 32

There is one holdout, though

January 31st, 2012



Mount Horeb is a congregation of black Jews, or Hebrew Israelites, formerly led by Rabbi Hailu Paris.

Day 38




Led by the prominent Rabbi Herschel Schacter for more than five decades, it now houses the Msgr. Boyle Head Start program.

Day 47

Universal Temple Church of God

February 15th, 2012



The former Congregation Adath Yeshurun

Day 53

Second Calvary Baptist Church

February 21st, 2012



The former Congregation Agudath Achim B'nai Jacob

Day 74

Angel Orensanz Center

March 13th, 2012



Built in 1849, this is the oldest surviving synagogue building in New York.

Day 103




On the site of an old Old Testament temple

Day 128

Love Gospel Assembly

May 6th, 2012



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.

Day 139

Hint of a synagogue past

May 17th, 2012



The former Congregation Adath Israel

Day 246

Adath Jeshurun of Jassy

September 1st, 2012



This former synagogue, built in 1903, has served as studio and residential space for artists since 1973.

Day 247

Churchagogue of the day

September 2nd, 2012


Day 258

Former synagogue

September 13th, 2012



Current "spectacular fourplex"

Day 267

La Sinagoga

September 22nd, 2012



George Gershwin was born in a house that once stood across the street from this synagogue turned church.

Day 335

Congregation Hope of Israel

November 29th, 2012



The hope was dying, and now it's dead.

Day 337

First Union Baptist Church

December 1st, 2012



The former Tremont Temple/Congregation Gates of Mercy

Day 337

Another former synagogue

December 1st, 2012



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.

Day 380

Churchagogue of the day

January 13th, 2013



Like the South Bronx, East New York was once a heavily Jewish area, and many of its synagogues have now become houses of worship for other faiths. This one was originally Congregation Chevra Tehillim Nusach Ashkenaz.

Day 381

Churchagogue of the day

January 14th, 2013



The former Congregation Sons of Judah

Day 382

Churchagogue of the day

January 15th, 2013



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.

Day 382

Ninth Tabernacle

January 15th, 2013



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.

Day 392




This community center occupies the former home of the Hebrew Institute of University Heights.

Day 416

Churchagogue of the day

February 18th, 2013



The former Congregation Ezrath Achim

Day 419

Churchagogue of the day

February 21st, 2013



Temple Sinai could almost pass for an active synagogue, except for a single "Assembly of Christian Churches" sign above the center set of doors.

Day 454

Churchagogue of the day

March 28th, 2013



Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel Romanian Orthodox Church, formerly Congregation Ahavath Achim

Day 459

Churchagogue of the day

April 2nd, 2013



The former Congregation Bikur Cholim B'nai Jacob

Day 459

Another churchagogue

April 2nd, 2013



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).

Day 465

Churchagogue of the day

April 8th, 2013



Mt. Zion Church of God (7th Day), formerly Congregation Ahavas Achim

Day 475

Churchagogue of the day

April 18th, 2013


Day 476

Churchagogue of the day

April 19th, 2013



The former Rishon L’Zion had some company in the next few blocks.

Day 479

Churchagogue of the day

April 22nd, 2013



Grace Deliverance Tabernacle, formerly Congregation Beth Israel

Day 501




The former Montefiore Hebrew Congregation

Day 504

Churchagogue of the day

May 17th, 2013



The former Netzach Israel Jewish Center

Day 505

Churchagogue of the day

May 18th, 2013



Emanuel Pentecostal Faith Church: a tip of the hat to its predecessor, Emanuel Synagogue

Day 505

Overcompensating?

May 18th, 2013



Another churchagogue, the former Congregation Beth Jacob B’Arav Abraham

Day 513




This is the former Chevra Shomrey Sabath, so we've got the "agogue" part covered. But the building's current occupant, Congregacion de Yahweh, is a Messianic Jewish congregation. As such, its members believe that Jesus was the messiah, but I don't think they would refer to themselves as a "church".

Day 538

Churchagogue of the day

June 20th, 2013



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."

Day 566

Ashramagogue of the day

July 18th, 2013



The former Young Israel of Jamaica is now home to the America Sevashram Sangha.

Day 573

Churchagogue of the day

July 25th, 2013



Now home to a Haitian church named L'Eglise Baptiste de Bethanie, this building was originally the synagogue of the First Independent Hebrew Congregation.

Day 645

Deity

October 5th, 2013



This event space and lounge, with its pagan-inspired artwork, is housed inside the former Talmud Torah Beth Jacob Joseph synagogue. A closer look reveals many traces of the building's past.

Day 757

Churchagogue of the day

January 25th, 2014



The Jamaica-Queens Wesleyan Church; formerly Young Israel of Laurelton

Day 799

Churchagogue of the day

March 8th, 2014



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.

Day 800

Churchagogue of the day

March 9th, 2014



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."

"And who," he was asked, "was the Second Yossele Rosenblatt?"

"Feh!" he replied in disgust, "Everyone knows there could be no Second 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.

Day 815

Calvary Pentecostal Church

March 24th, 2014



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.

Day 815

Churchagogue of the day

March 24th, 2014



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.

Day 869

St. Ann’s Church

May 17th, 2014



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.

Day 923

Churchagogue of the day

July 10th, 2014



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.

Day 1124

Churchagogue of the day

January 27th, 2015



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.)

Day 1217

Churchagogue of the day

April 30th, 2015



Iglesia Bautista El Mesias, the former Temple Sons of Jacob

Day 1240

Churchagogue of the day

May 23rd, 2015



Fresh Anointing International Church, the former Conservative Synagogue of Jamaica Estates

Day 1245

Churchagogue of the day

May 28th, 2015



New York Dong Won Presbyterian Church, formerly the synagogue of Congregation Agudas Achim