In the midst of Chinatown, the Eldridge St synagogue is the reminiscence of what used to be the neighborhood with the highest density of (people and of) immigrants. Built in 1887, it was the first ground-built orthodox synagogue in the city. Earlier newcomers, namely from Germany, had made their fortune and fled uptown by that time. The synagogue welcomed new practitioners from Eastern Europe.
The synagogue is of Moorish style.
The main room is beautiful. The arch is considerably large, housing up to 24 rolls (the usual is more around 10 to 12 rolls)! The designers did not want it to look like a church.
The seats are numbered so that people would buy/rent a seat to attend prayers. There even was a book of rules, the “constitution”, to keep everyone in order.
This small box is not a confessional as seen in a church, neither it is a confinement room as seen in some Easter Europe synagogues, but a bathroom! When two different congregations used to share the building, they decided to each have their own bathroom.
We have no idea how the back opening used to look like originally. It was filled afterwards with glass blocks, and finally replaced in 2010 with this stained glass art piece inspired by the sky domes of the side alleys.
Note the 5-branches stars of the sky domes, compared to the 6-branches David star in the center. Some say they recall the stars of the United States flag, as immigrants were full of hope for their new home country.
The renovation was never supposed to make things anew. Here, you see the floor printed by ages of people standing.
At the upper benches (reserved for women and children), a wall was left “as-is” to show its construction layers.
The chandelier is original. Used with gas before the building got electricity, imagine it turned upside down.
Stained glass at the front rose.
The David Star is everywhere. Jewish people moving to New York could finally practice their faith without hiding.