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Rabbi Singer zt"l



The Bialystoker Synagogue was organized in 1865 on the Lower East Side of New York City. The Synagogue began on Hester Street, moved to Orchard Street, and then ultimately to its current location on Willet Street, more recently renamed Bialystoker Place.

Our congregation is housed in a fieldstone building built in 1826 in the late Federal style.  The building is made of Manhattan schist from a quarry on nearby Pitt Street. The exterior is marked by three windows over three doors framed with round arches, a low flight of brownstone steps, a low pitched pedimented roof with a lunette window and a wooden cornice. It was first designed as the Willett Street Methodist Episcopal Church. 

In the corner of the women’s gallery there is a small break in the wall that leads to a ladder going up to an attic, lit by two windows.  Legend has it that the synagogue was a stop on the Underground Railroad and that runaway slaves found sanctuary in this attic. 

In 1905, our congregation, at that time composed chiefly of Polish immigrants from the province of Bialystok, purchased the building to serve as our synagogue.  During the Great Depression, a decision was made to beautify the main sanctuary, to provide a sense of hope and inspiration to the community. The synagogue was listed as a New York City landmark on April 19, 1966. It is one of only four early-19th century fieldstone religious buildings surviving from the late Federal period in Lower ManhattanRichard McBee and Dodi-Lee Hecht have both written in-depth articles about the building.

In 1988 the Synagogue restored the interior to its original facade, and the former Hebrew school building was renovated and reopened as The Daniel Potkorony Building.  It is currently used for many educational activities.  Our most recent project was the refurbishing of our windows.

The Synagogue has continued to be a vibrant and reputable force in the religious world. In recent years a substantial number of new families have chosen to make it their place for prayer and study. 

Photos courtesy of Judah S. Harris

A more detailed history of the early days of the congregation is available here, as well as an in-depth look at the history of Bialystok in Poland.

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