web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Preserving Baltimore’s First Synagogue (Part II)

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Building

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Building

Share Button

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from “The Lloyd Street Synagogue of Baltimore: A National Shrine” by Israel Tabak, American Jewish Historical Quarterly (1961-1978); Sep 1971-Jun 1972; 61, 1-4; AJHS Journal page 343. The article is available at http://www.ajhs.org/scholarship/adaje.cfm.

Last month we dealt with the building of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the first synagogue to be built in Maryland. This month we look at how the building became a church, then again an Orthodox Synagogue, and finally a historic site.

Reform Affects the Synagogue

Membership in the synagogue continued to increase, and in 1860 the original structure was enlarged by a 30-foot extension on its eastern end. However, increased membership proved to be both a blessing and a curse. It attracted some who had been influenced by the Reform movement. At first these people demanded some minor innovations but as time went on they pushed for more and more change. There were constant conflicts and dissensions.

Rabbi Rice refused to compromise when it came to halacha. He viewed minor attempts to introduce ritual changes as the first steps toward a total break with Orthodoxy. In 1849 things got so bad that, much to the shock of many synagogue members, Rabbi Rice resigned as spiritual leader of the congregation. When in 1862 the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation found itself without a rabbi, Rav Rice was asked to again become its spiritual leader. He agreed but did not serve for long, as he passed away on October 29, 1862.

The congregation was now spiraling toward Reform. In 1871 a number of the more religious members left and formed Chizuk Amuno Congregation with the goal of preserving Orthodox observance. (Details of the history of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s change from Orthodox to Reform are described in detail in “Lost To Orthodoxy: The Fate of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation,” front page essay, The Jewish Press, July 22, 2011.)

On February 3, 1889 the synagogue that had once been the centerpiece of traditional Judaism in Baltimore was sold for $12,000 to the newly organized Lithuanian Roman Catholic Parish and became the Church of St. John the Baptist.

Once Again a Synagogue

The building on Lloyd Street that originally housed the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation was used as a church until 1905. In that year it once again became home to an Orthodox Jewish congregation – Congregation Shomrei Mishmeres HaKodesh (Guardians of the Sacred Heritage). Its members consisted primarily of observant immigrants from Russia and the Ukraine, many of whom were from a chassidic background.

In 1908 Rav Avraham Nachman Schwartz became the congregation’s rav; he would served in that position for 29 years. Rav Schwartz was a Talmudic scholar of great renown and became known as Chief Rabbi of the Russian Jews.” He was instrumental in the founding of the Baltimore Hebrew Parochial School which eventually was renamed the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore. This was the first day school established in America outside of New York City.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue was again a bastion of Torah. For over 50 years Shomrei Mishmeres HaKodesh occupied a prominent position within the Baltimore Jewish Community and was known as the “the leading synagogue in East Baltimore.”

Saved from Destruction

After World War II, most of East Baltimore’s Jews moved to other neighborhoods and by 1958 the few elderly Jews left were unable to keep the congregation together. The building itself had deteriorated considerably, and a movement was initiated to sell the building to commercial buyers or to tear it down and turn the ground into a parking lot. It looked like the first synagogue in Maryland would soon be no more.

“It was at this time that Wilbur H. Hunter, Jr., Director of the Peale Museum of Maryland, was commissioned by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the United States National Park Service to prepare reports on thirteen historic buildings in the Baltimore area, one of which was the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

“Mr. Hunter brought the historic and architectural significance of the Lloyd Street Synagogue to the attention of the National Park Service, and the Baltimore Jewish community. In a series of public lectures, he addressed Jewish groups on the importance of the first synagogue of Maryland and the urgent need to save it from disintegration.

Share Button

About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Preserving Baltimore’s First Synagogue (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Blue Valley High School, Overland Park, Kansas, the school attended by 14-year-old shooting victim Reat Griffin Underwood.
Kansas Shooting Suspect a White Supremacist, Indicted for Murder
Latest Sections Stories
Tali Hill, a beneficiary of the Max Factor Family Foundation.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas’s deans, Rabbi Moshe Katz and Rabbi Zev Goldman, present award to Educator of the Year, Rabbi Michoel Paris.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

Your husband seems to have experienced what we have described as the Ambivalent Attachment.

The goal of the crusade is to demonize and hurt Israel.

The JUMP program at Hebrew Academy was generously sponsored by Evelyn and Dr. Shmuel Katz.

More Articles from Dr. Yitzchok Levine
Levine-Dr-Yitzchok-NEW

“Attuned to the ideal of establishing a new Zion in free America, they named their new colony Palestine.

Last month’s column outlined some efforts during the first half of the nineteenth century to establish Jewish agricultural colonies in America. In only one case was a colony actually established.

There were very few Jewish farmers in Europe during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Indeed, in many parts of Europe Jews were forbidden to own land. Despite this there were some Jews who always felt they should return to the agrarian way of life their forefathers had pursued in ancient times, and that America was an ideal place to establish Jewish agricultural colonies.

The President having signed the Treaty of the Geneva Conference and the Senate having, on the 16th instant, ratified the President’s actions, the American Association of the Red Cross, organized under provisions of said treaty, purposes to send its agents at once among the sufferers by the recent floods, with a view to the ameliorating of their condition so far as can be done by human aid and the means at hand will permit. Contributions are urgently solicited.

Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.

There are many observant Jews who contributed much to secular and Jewish life in America and yet have, unfortunately, been essentially forgotten. One such man is Adolphus Simson Solomons (1826-1910).

Cholera was officially recognized to be of epidemic proportions in New York City on June 26, 1832. The epidemic was at its peak in July and 3,515 out of a population of about 250,000 died. (The equivalent death toll in today’s city of eight million would exceed 100,000.) Sadly, in 1832 there were no effective treatments available for those who contracted this disease.

As this is our third column on the Reverend Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes, we’ll begin with a summary of his life.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/preserving-baltimores-first-synagogue-part-ii/2013/01/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: