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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