Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Look At Our Roots

Congregation Adas Emuno was founded on October 22nd, 1871, in Hoboken, New Jersey, and from our perspective, our Congregation is not a place or a facility, it is an organization, and more than anything else, a community.

But for another perspective on Adas Emuno, we can turn to a website called, interestingly enough, The New Jersey Churchscape.  Here is how the creators of the website explain their project: "We've created a database and photographic inventory on more than half the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it each month." 

And they have an entry for the "Adas Emuno Synagogue"!  But not for our present shul in Leonia, no, but rather for the original facility in Hoboken!  And here's the photograph that accompanies their entry:

According to our website's History page, this synagogue "was built on a parcel of land donated by the Stevens Family. This charming Gothic Revival building still stands today as an historic landmark, and at the time of its construction, was the pride of its congregation and a “credit to the city" [source: Hoboken Evening News, 1893] of Hoboken." And here is what they say in the New Jersey Churchscape entry on the Adas Emuno Synagogue:

This is the oldest surviving synagogue in New Jersey, built in 1883. The windows and door are Gothic, but the arcade in the gable is Romanesque. In the last part of the nineteenth century, the Jews had not developed an architectural style that was different from Christian churches, although in several instances, including an old synagogue in Newark, a vaguely Moorish style was adopted. I believe it was used by a Christian congregation for a period but is now an apartment building.

In 1974, a little over a century after its founding, our Congregation moved north, from Hoboken in Hudson County to Leonia in Bergen County, and that's where you'll find us today.  

And if the fate of the building saddens you at all, it is worth recalling that the origins of the Jewish people were as nomads, and that much more space, what we value is time, including the sacred time of Shabbat and the Jewish holidays.  And much more than places and buildings and monuments, what we value is people, and life. 

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