Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Downtown North Tour

Mishkan Israel Synagogue

380 Orange Street

(former)

Postcard of Mishkan Israel Synagogue, c. 1910. Courtesy Joe Taylor

Mishkan Israel Synagogue, established in 1840, is the oldest synagogue in Connecticut. From 1840–1843 worship took place in a congregant’s home. In 1843 the congregation’s first official synagogue was dedicated on Grand Avenue. In 1856 the congregation purchased the Court Street Meeting House of the Third Congregational Church. Orthodox Congregants left to form B’nai Scholom Synagogue (see #22 in the Wooster Square Tour), while Mishkan Israel continued to follow Reform ritual. By 1894 Mishkan Israel’s congregation was growing, and in 1897 an impressive new Temple with Spanish Renaissance-style architecture was dedicated on Orange Street. The synagogue moved to Ridge Road in 1960. In the 1960s Mishkan Israel’s Rabbi Robert Goldberg was involved in liberal causes, including challenging McCarthyism, supporting the Civil Rights and Antiwar movements, and inviting Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at the Temple. He was even arrested in a civil rights gathering in Georgia. The ACES Educational Center for the Arts, a regional public after school program that provides high school students with the experience of studying the fine arts with practicing professional artists, now occupies the site, with the façade of the former Congregation Mishkan Israel preserved.

  • Text source courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven Archives.

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