Archive for January, 2010

Early Travelers’ Account of Schenectady

* We will be reprinting articles from our past newsletters. This article appeared in March 1966. It has not been updated or altered in anyway.*

By Jean H. O’Hara

Descriptions of America have been recorded in letters, newspapers and books since Captain John Smith sent his impressions of the new lands home to England where they were published in 1608. Through complimentary or derogatory comments, these impressions of native or foreign travelers are especially valuable in any study of the early communities of our country. In many instances they provide the only insight into the past of areas on which no other records are available.

Most of the earliest writers were transients, and through their words it is possible to trace the growth of Schenectady from a frontier trading village into a thriving commercial town long before the Civil War and the industrialization which transformed it into a city of the twentieth century.

Missionaries and explorers, the earliest of non-native visitors, were moved to remark on this beautiful and fertile valley even before Arendt Van Curler envisaged a settlement on these flatlands. Others obviously shared their enthusiasm, for in 1661 a courageous few agreed to build homes in the wilderness. By 1680 travelers to “Schoonechtendeel” found a village of thirty houses and one of these, Jasper Danckaerts, was enthusiastic in his praise of its rich soil and wheat crops but critical of its religious atmosphere. He noted in his Journal that “…this place is a godless one, being without a minister and having only a homily read on Sundays…”

Little more than a decade had passed when the shocking massacre of its inhabitants made Schenectady a topic for discussion throughout the colonies and abroad. Reports on the holocaust promoted visits from the curious and those on official business, including Governor Henry Slaughter, who viewed the village on June 30, 1691 and later reported that he “…found that place in great disorder, our plantations and Schenectady almost ruined and destroyed by the enemys during (sic) the time of the late confusions here. I have garrisoned Schenectady…”.

With the advent of resident troops, the village advanced from being little more than a trading settlement to a frontier military post, worth of being mentioned in official reports to England. The importance of this northern frontier focused ever- increasing attention on this area. In 1698 Col. William Romar was commissioned by Governor Bellomont to inspect the northern fortififications, and he reported that Schenectady was “…neglected, built of wood and palisades of poor defense…”.

Because of its strategic locations, the village on the banks of the Mohawk became the center for early negotiations with the Indians, and was often visited by emissaries from the Sachems and the Royal Governors. Drawn by Conferences with the Five Nations, Governor Edward Lord Cornbury honored Schenectady with a visit in July of 1702, and Governor Robert Hunter arrived in August of 1710.

In November of 1710, Governor Hunter returned with on John Bridger, who had been commissioned to seek wood for His Majesty’s ships. England drew upon the natural resources of her colonies to supply naval stores for the vessels of the Royal Navy. Aside from their importance to the colonists, the vast forests along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers attracted the attention of the Royal authorities. Mr. Bridger reported a successful journey by writing to his superiors that”…I have with the Governor been up Hudson’s River at Albany and Schinectedy (sic) and have seen and viewed several great Tracts of Pitch Pine proper for making Tar, Pitch…”.

Visitors during these early years of the 18th century were confined mainly to the above mentioned officials, courageous pioneers migrating westward into the wilderness, and military personnel passing through to engage the enemy during the French and Indian Wars. But interest in exploring America encouraged both native and foreign travelers to visit the northern frontier. Scientific studies brought Europeans such as Peter Kalm into the area around Albany, while an inquisitive nature prompted a physician from Maryland, Dr. Alexander Hamilton, to accompany an Albanian surveyor to Schenectady on June 28, 1744. His description of the approach to the village from the Albany Road is most poetic:
“…(Schenectady) is a trading village, the people carrying on a traffic with the Indians – their chief commoditys (sick) wampum, Knives, needles and other such pedlary ware. This village is pretty (sic) near as large as Albany and consists chiefly of brick houses, built upon a pleasant plain, inclosed all round att (sic) about a Mile’s distance with thick pine woods. These woods form a copse above your head almost all the way betwixt Albany and Schenectady, and you ride over a plain, level, sandy road till (sic), coming out of the covert of the woods, all att (sic) once the village strikes surprisingly (sic) your eye, which I can compare to nothing but the curtain rising in a play and displaying a beautiful scene.”

The end of the Seven Years War brought resumed migration of settlers along the Mohawk and an increase in visitors, including many distinguished persons on their way to confer with Sir William Johnson. In the winter of 1760, Sir William’s brother Warren, passed through – apparently amazed that the Mohawk river was frozen enough to permit crossing on foot at Schenectady. He was not favorably impressed with the settlement, for he referred to it as “…a little dirty village…”.

A more complimentary description of the village and its growing commercialism is found in the comments of Col. Thatcher T. P. Luquer on his arrival in 1767 – when there were approximately 300 houses and about 3000 inhabitants. His words also illustrate that the growing British influence in New York had also reached this outpost of civilization-
“…The houses, which are mostly of wood, are built in the Dutch taste, there are some good edifices, lately built, after the English manner. Along the river are storehouses from which the goods for the upper trade are shipped in bateaus…Here are built all the bateaus for the transportation up the Mohawk River, and a number of the inhabitants of the towns and settlements on the banks of the river are employed, and get their livelihood by navigating them. Three men are commonly in each bateau, they are paid from Schenectady to Oswego 5 pounds a man…”

Despite such lucrative sources of income, a lively trade with settlers and Indians up river, and fertile soil for crops, villagers at this period were still dependent on older settlements to the East for some items. Richard Smith, traveling through in 1769, mentions in hi Journal that “…The Tounspeople are supplied altogether with Beef and Pork from New England most of the Meadows being used for Wheat, Peas and other Grain…”

In the following year the inhabitants of Schenectady were exposed to the religious experience which affected all colonies in the years prior to the Revolution. The Reverend George Whitefield, harbinger of the Great Awakening, honored villagers with a visit in July of 1770. He in turn “…was struck with the the delightful situation of the place…” and his enthusiastic reception.

The American Revolution transformed the quiet village into a rendezvous for militia and regulars marching westward and a haven for refugees fleeing from Tory and Indian raiders. During this period General George Washington was certainly the most distinguished visitor, but there were others of importance including the Marquis de Chastelux, one of the many Frenchmen who gave assistance to the American cause. The Marquis was particularly interested in colonial life and inspected the Oneida encampment while in Schenectady in 1780.

He recorded a sympathetic view of the state of these Indians for he found the settlement”…nothing but an assemblage of miserable huts in the woods along the Road to Albany. The Framework consists of only two uprights and one cross pole, this covered with a matted roof, but is well lined with a quantity of bark…”. This encampment was destined to be an eyesore for both residents and transients for many years.

With the coming of peace the movement of settlers westward began again, with the Mohawk valley a natural passageway to Ohio and beyond. Schenectady prospered through trade and reached new importance as a transportation center. One of the many making use of its facilities in 1793 was John Heckewelder, who travelled in the interests of the Moravian Church. He found a village which had grown to include almost 400 houses, 3 churches and an Academy. His description illustrates a vigorous atmosphere:
“…The Inhabitants of this place (seemingly generally pretty Industrious) are likewise chiefly Low Dutch, and appear pretty Sociable. The keep up a Number of light Waggons to transport the Produce brought down the River to this place, to Albany, to which place they go and return the same day. The 8 new boats made here for the purpose of transporting our Baggage, and for our Use to Niagara being loaded we sat (sic) off at 3 in the Afternoon, with 30 hands from hence to work the boats.”

But work was intermingled with pleasure along the banks of the Mohawk, and villagers joined with the rest of America in annually celebrating the anniversary of its Declaration of Independence. In the early days of the 19th century a new awareness of nationalism swept the country, and a Scotsman, J.B. Dunlop arrived in Schenectady on July 4th, 1810 – in time to witness its celebration of the holiday. With glowing words he wrote:
“…There was a grand display of fire works on the Mohawk river, the banks of which, as well as the beautiful bridge over it, were crowded with people, whilst innumerable boats, filled with the genteel class, moved upon the smooth surface of the river to the reverberating echo of a band of music which filled up the intervals between each fire rocket with martial music. The moon shone beautifully bright on all…”

The bridge mention above, which was built in 1809, attracted an even greater number of visitors who wished to view the latest and, in the opinion of many, the great greatest accomplishment of its designer Theodore Burr. Another attraction was Union College and one typical traveler of 1818 who expressed interest in the institution was William Darby, who passed through the town on his way from New York City to Detroit. He made special note of Schenectady’s buildings and its college by commenting that “…Many of the buildings are large, expensive and elegant…For my own part, I viewed the buildings composing the three colleges which bear the name of Union in Schenectady, with a similar reverence, with which I had formerly felt passing Cambridge, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Dickinson. Those, and other such edifices, are the true temples of reason.” During the following year many of the town’s buildings were destroyed in the disastrous fire of 1819.

Mr. Darby also found exceptional the regularity with which properties and streets were laid out. Its design gave credit to the first proprietors, whose orderly division of lands avoided the haphazard growth found in most other early settlements in New York.

While construction of the Erie Canal made it possible for boats to navigate eastward to Albany, most travelers found it easier and quicker to ride by stage or carriage to Schenectady for embarkation. This meant additional income for the coffers of local businesses, as the importance of canal transportation advanced. Typical of the many who chose this method of moving westward was the notorious Mrs. Frances Trollope, who wrote”…The first sixteen miles from Albany we travelled in a stage, to avoid a multitude of locks at the entrance of the Erie canal; but at Schenectady we got on board one of the canal packet-boats for Utica…”

Some comments on the American scene were written for private viewing while others were produced for their commercial value, and by the 19th century any publication containing information on America was guaranteed to experience immediate popularity abroad. Mrs. Trollope found it even more profitable in 1831 to produce a scathing report of her travels in the “Domestic Manners of the Americans”, a book which made her name an infamous one for many generations.

Old Union College Building N.E. corner of Union and College Sts.

A fello-countryman and admirer, Asa Greene, an ex-barber to the King, followed Mrs. Trollope’s example within two years. Among his uncomplimentary remarks about America, he wrote of Schenectady: “…The only thing worthy of note here, is a college, as it is dominated in America; which means nothing more than a school where a parcel of boys learn Latin and Greek, and a few other things; but as I am credibly informed, are never whipped, as the boys are in England…”.

First Schenectady Railroad Depot (Destroyed by fire 1842)

But Mr. Green had the exciting experience of riding on the newly opened railroad between Albany and Schenectady, the western terminus of which was the imposing Roman-style depot on a bill east of the town. The traveler, who rode at the rate of fifty miles an hour, had mixed emotions about the journey, and commented; “…To tell the truth, this is quite an easy mode of traveling; and were it not for the vile republican company with which the rail-road cars are continually crowded, would be a very agreeable one…”.

But the “republican” atmosphere in America by this time constituted one of largest elements in the formula which produced national growth and democratization. The railroad on which Mr. Green travelled was soon to change the complexion of Schenectady, and by the time of the Civil War the town had grown to the point where it was ready for the industrialization which was to follow – ready to retain its importance in a modern world.

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WORLD COMMUNITY

Throughout its history, the Schenectady Jewish community identified with its co-religionists at home and abroad. As early as 1861, when a representative of the Jewish community in Tiberias, Palestine came to Schenectady to solicit funds for a synagogue and school, Congregation Gates of Heaven collected $14.50, and promised future contributions, a premonition of future pledge campaigns for Israel Bonds. When World War I broke out, Workmen’s Circle’s local chapter, started a campaign in October 1914 to raise money for European and Palestinian Jews displaced by the war, and other Jewish organizations in the city joined to hold a mass meeting at Agudas Achim. President Woodrow Wilson recognized January 27, 1916 as Jewish Relief Day, and the Jewish community met to contribute, and as a local newspaper observed: “the gathering was of the Jewish of moderate circumstances” suggesting the immigrant nature and modest income of most the community in 1916. By 1918, the community raised about $12,000, but Rabbi Joseph Jasin of Gates of Heaven, felt that while poor and middle class Jews had contributed he criticized, in an editorial “Shame of Schenectady Jewry,” the response of the wealthier members of the community.
When the war ended, local Jews also organized protests against pogroms in Poland and Ukraine against Jews. In May 1919, the United Schenectady Jewish Community held a protest meeting and drafted resolutions sent to President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Robert Lansing. Twenty years later, Jews organized protests against Nazi treatment of Jews in the wake of Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938). Five hundred people gathered at Union College to denounce Nazi policies. In fact, in December 1937, local Jews criticized the appearance of a leader of the pro-Nazi German-American Bund at Union College. During World War II, Schenectady’s Jews held ceremonies to highlight the persecution of Jews in Europe.
The situation in Palestine attracted Jewish attention since World War I. Zionist groups were established in Schenectady as early as 1898, and the Mt. Moriah Zionist Association was formed in 1913. The women’s Zionist organization, Hadassah, formed a local chapter in November 1915 which has been active ever since, and raised funds for philanthropic endeavors in Palestine, and later Israel. Local Jews supported the restoration of a Jewish homeland and contributed to the Palestine Restoration fund. Twenty years later, Jews in Schenectady petitioned President Franklin Roosevelt to pressure the British to open Palestine to refugees fleeing Germany. In the wake of World War II Hadassah and the Council of Jewish Women raised money and supplies for Jewish war refugees and Holocaust survivors. Eight hundred people attended a mass rally at the JCC to celebrate the independence of Israel. When Israel was threatened in 1967 and 1973 local Jews rallied, held meetings, and raised funds for the embattled Jewish state. Finally, in the 1990s, Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union were welcomed into the community, once again, showing the identification of Schenectady’s Jewish community with co-religionists abroad.

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KADDISH FOR PRESIDENT GARFIELD

Mordecai Myers

Throughout American history Jewish immigrants sought to identify with their new homeland and sought acceptance as Americans. When Charles Guiteau shot President James Garfield in 1881, Schenectady’s Jews held a special prayer service at Gates of Heaven, and when he died they joined with their fellow Americans in mourning his death, and owners of businesses on State Street, like Isaac Levy, wholesale liquor dealer, and Lewis Behr, tailor, draped their shops in black for the fallen president. In times of national tragedy, Jews showed their loyalty as Americans.
Public service provided another means of showing loyalty and their acceptance by non-Jews as Americans. Mordecai Myers, native born, got elected mayor as a Democrat in 1851 and 1854. Fifty years later, Louis M. King, the son of a German Jewish immigrant, served as City Clerk from 1899-1902. Members of the Jewish community, like S. Levy, got elected to the post of city councilman. By the early 20th Century, Jews were well integrated into the civic and political life of the city—even forming a Jewish Republican Club in the 1920s. Jews also served on school boards, hospital boards, and city planning commissions. Integration into the social life of the city was evident in the membership of the Odd Fellows.
Jews served in every war since the Civil War. During World War I, the local Jewish newspaper published a list of every Jewish resident who volunteered or was drafted for military service. Members of the community organized a Jewish Welfare Board to support men in service and help Jewish soldiers from outside the area stationed in South Schenectady during the war. Men from the area wrote they missed the baseball games sponsored by the Y with their co-religionists from Albany, another sign of the Americanization of the sons of immigrants. Similarly, in World War II, the Jewish Welfare Board was recreated in 1943 to help the troops and encourage women to assist in war related events, like bond drives. Members of the community served on civilian groups aiding the war effort, like the county War Council. In 1935, veterans of World War I organized a chapter of the Jewish War Veterans. In May 1948, the community dedicated a plaque to the Jewish men from Schenectady who died in World War II. Jewish War Veterans Post 106 conducted a special memorial service that month at Ohab Sholom-Bnai Abraham. This service reinforced the community’s identity as Jews and Americans.

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ORGANIZATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS

Poster for the Jewish Community Center Summer Camp

Organizational life in the 19th Century began with the first non-congregational association, the Ladies Benevolent Society active in the early 1880s before the establishment of the Montefiore Society in 1883. Both were philanthropic groups, most of the members belonging to Gates of Heaven. In 1897, women at that synagogue organized the Ladies Auxiliary. As each additional synagogue came into being, women organized ladies auxiliaries or sisterhoods. In Schenectady, as in other communities, Jews felt a responsibility to form charitable organizations. Other charitable groups included the United Hebrew Charities in 1897, the Hebrew Sick and Benevolent Society in 1909, and the Hebrew Sheltering and Aid Society in 1913. As an example, the latter organization took responsibility for poor Jews traveling through the city. To deal with the problems within the community local women organized the Ladies Auxiliary in 1913 which became the primary Jewish social service organization in the city in the 1920s. The National Council of Jewish Women started a Schenectady chapter in 1916. It emerged as a major philanthropic group from its inception through the 1950s, dealing with war related activities and refugee issues. These organizations relied heavily on volunteers from the German Jewish community and Gates of Heaven. The creation of the Ladies Auxiliary in 1913 marked the emergence of women from Hungary and Russia as part of the philanthropic community in Schenectady.
The arrival of Jews from Eastern Europe led to a significant expansion of associations. At least three fraternal organizations, like the Sons of Judah were organized, which also established cemetery plots for their members, as did each synagogue and some of the other fraternal groups. Workmen’s Circle combined socialism, Yiddish culture and fraternal membership. Branch 117, organized in 1912 remained active until it merged with an Albany branch in 1972. Before World War I Jewish immigrants attracted to radicalism also established an anarchist group linked to Emma Goldman and a Jewish branch of the Socialist Party. These organizations were in every Jewish community and represented the cultural, political, and social traditions of Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe that combined radicalism, loyalty to Orthodox Judaism, and Yiddish language culture. Jewish lodges also appeared in non-Jewish national fraternal organizations, like the Zion Lodge of Odd Fellows.
Efforts to form a community educational institution led to the Talmud Torah in 1912 which evolved into the United Hebrew Community in 1924, chartered for charitable work and “to improve the spiritual, mental, and social condition of the people of the Jewish faith” in Schenectady. Simultaneously, two young people’s groups merged in 1915 to form the YMHA and in 1916 YWHA. By 1929, these groups joined with the United Hebrew Community to create the Jewish Community Center. Located for decades on Germania Avenue in what was the major Jewish neighborhood it moved to follow the movement of the Jewish community in 1967 to its present location in Niskayuna. The JCC provides educational, cultural, recreational, and social activities.

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Jewish Buisnesses in Schenectady

The first Jews who settled in Schenectady came as peddlers, or small dealers in liquor, clothing, and groceries. In fact, in synagogues in communities like Albany or Syracuse one third to one half of the males were initially employed as peddlers. By the 1870s and 1880s, some had opened small businesses, and some prospered. Alexander Susholz, a German immigrant began as a peddler and by the time of his death in 1886 he built a major clothing establishment which he left to his sons. Emanuel King, an immigrant from Austria settled in Schenectady in the early 1860s, and when he died in 1905 he had become a prominent local businessman and civic leader, who started as a tailor and prospered. Julius Davidson came from Prussia and achieved success in the retail clothing business. In the early 1860s he moved to Schenectady, and for forty years ran one the city’s major retail clothing shops on 248-252 State Street. Isaac Levi came from Germany and built a thriving liquor business as did the even more successful wholesale liquor dealer, Henry Heilbronner, another immigrant. Pfeifer Levi came from Germany in 1851 and emerged as a prominent clothing businessman. The most successful of these early German and Austrian immigrants was Jonathan Levi, who settled in Schenectady in the 1860s, began as a peddler, and made a fortune in the wholesale grocery business.
The arrival of Jews from Hungary and Eastern Europe created a new generation of peddlers who struggled to survive economically. Also, it produced small kosher bakeries, butcher shops, and restaurants. One could go to kosher stores, like the New York Deli or Romanoff’s or Hy Sofer’s Kosher Deli to eat, or purchase meat or baked goods that Orthodox Jews knew were prepared according to dietary laws. The passing of the immigrant generation, the higher educational levels of the children, and the movement of the population led most of these Jewish oriented stores to close. Today, the one kosher bakery is Mont Pleasant Bakery, and one can go to the kosher section of the Price Chopper started by Louis Golub, or to the kosher catering of Agudat Achim. For nostalgia of a Jewish style deli there is Gershons.

The number of Jewish businesses that existed are too numerous to mention. Hershel Graubart remembers when two thirds of the stores on State Street would close for the Jewish High Holydays. Some of the Jewish merchants innovated like Max Cohn, an immigrant from Latvia who arrived in Schenectady in 1898, founded the United Fruit Company and later the Original Super Market in 1932. Louis Golub started a grocery in 1908 which his sons William and Bernard turned into Central Markets, now Price Chopper.

Abe Cohen, born in Austria, started a dress shop on State Street in 1912 which became Imperial, a women’s clothing store. Jewish immigrants concentrated in clothing, groceries, and jewelry. Samuel Graubart started a jewelry store in 1897 after he emigrated from Austria. This store remained open until 2002. The photos and objects in this exhibition are only a tiny sampling of the many Jewish owned retail stores that existed in Schenectady over the last one hundred and fifty years. The passing of the immigrant generation, the decline of the downtown business district, changes in fashion, and the emergence of malls led to the decline and closing of many of these stores and businesses.

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BETH ISRAEL AND ORTHODOX CONGREGATIONS

The immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe and Hungary created the need to establish additional Orthodox congregations. When immigrants arrived in the 1880s and 1890s all of Schenectady’s congregations were Orthodox, but differences based on ritual and country of origin created splits and the demand for new congregations. Hungarian Jews after initially joining Agudas Achim (Agudat Achim) split off for good in March 1902. The congregation met on South Center Street until the construction of a new synagogue on Hamilton Street in April 1907. The Mont Pleasant section of Schenectady attracted Jewish immigrants and many of the Hungarians worked as craftsmen at General Electric. Within the Jewish community, Ohab Zedek became the Hungarian synagogue and Agudas Achim the Russian synagogue. In 1937 the congregation constructed a new building on State Street which is now a theater.
Another group of recent immigrants from Eastern Europe did not feel comfortable in either Agudas Achim or Gates of Heaven and formed Ohab Sholom in 1894. A group of small dealers and peddlers formed an Independent Verein as a separate religious community in 1907, but merged into Ohab Sholom by World War I. The congregation did not formally incorporate until January 1924 with a synagogue on 419 Broadway. It previously met on South Center Street. In April 1931, the cornerstones for the new building were laid on Hamilton Street.
A split in Agudas Achim in 1914 led Rabbi Solomon Hinden and his supporters to break away and form Adath Israel. Rabbi Hinden and his supporters formally incorporated their congregation on June 26, 1916 with the congregation meeting at 832 Albany Street. In 1925, the congregation built a new synagogue on the 800 block of Albany Street where they remained until the congregation disbanded in the late 1960s.
Yet another faction of Orthodox Jews organized a separate congregation, Bnei Abraham, that met on 526 South Center Street. It incorporated in 1916. The congregation later moved to Broadway before merging into Ohab Sholom sometime between 1936-1943. In 1955 Ohab Sholom-Bnai Abraham merged with Ohab Zedek to become Beth Israel. The new congregation met at the Ohab Zedek building. The congregation built a new building in 1964 on Eastern Parkway which it used as a Hebrew School until it was expanded into the current synagogue in 1971. Today, Beth Israel is only remaining Orthodox congregation in the city

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AGUDAT ACHIM

Jews from the Russian Empire arrived in Schenectady in the 1880s, as they did in the neighboring communities of Albany and Troy, leading to a sudden growth in the number of synagogues. While most accounts suggest that Congregation Agudat Achim formed in 1890 it appears to have begun in 1888 when the first minyan met and became a formal congregation in 1889 with the drafting of a constitution. The congregation made it clear that its members would follow the minhag Polin, the ritual followed by Jews of Poland and Lithuania, similar to that of Congregation Beth El Jacob in Albany. Although Orthodox, like the members of Gates of Heaven in the 1880s, that congregation followed a German ritual, that recent immigrants from the Russian Empire found foreign and unacceptable. In addition, this new congregation insisted that all congregational business be conducted in Yiddish, reflecting the mother tongue of most East European Jews, and all officers must have fluency in Yiddish. Ironically, the constitution included words in German to make it sound high class, and not the work of recent immigrants with limited education. Founding members agreed to expel congregants who did not marry according to Jewish custom, meaning if they married Gentiles, and those who did not follow Orthodox ritual and laws.
Initially, the congregation met in a hall on State and Jay streets, and later at the Center Street Opera House. A group of Hungarian Jews joined the congregation but they split off to form Ohab Zedek in 1893, rejoined and left for good in March 1902. Differences in ritual and country of origin led to frequent synagogue splits making “Jewish unity an oxymoron,” according to historian Hasia Diner. By 1903, the congregation bought a site on Nott Terrace and began construction of a new synagogue in 1907. The laying of the cornerstone made front page news in June 1908. In 1910, the congregation had 1,200 people show for the High Holidays, and Gentiles called it the Nott Terrace synagogue and the “leading orthodox congregation in the city.” Conflict over Rabbi Solomon Hinden led him and his followers to leave in 1914 to form Orthodox Adath Israel. By the 1920s, Americanization of the second generation led to a decision to modernize services by affiliating with Conservative Judaism in 1927, similar to the emergence of Conservative congregations in Albany and Troy. Some older members dissented and left Agudat Achim to join Orthodox congregations. Just as Gates of Heaven became the only Reform community in Schenectady, Agudat Achim remains the only Conservative congregation in Schenectady County. Growth of membership and the movement of the Jewish community from downtown to the suburbs led to the construction of a new building in 1971 on the Troy-Schenectady Road.

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