Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Wooster Square Tour

Congregation B’nai Scholom

98 Olive Street

(former)

Congregation B’nai Scholom, c. 1950s. Courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven.

B’nai Scholom was the second oldest Jewish congregation in New Haven after Temple Mishkan Israel which was founded about 1840. A difference in theological opinion caused the more traditional element to break away in 1855 and form Congregation B’nai Scholom.

For a number of years this Orthodox group met in a hall in Brewster’s Building on the corner of State and Chapel Streets. Then in 1873 they purchased a building from the Third Congregational Society on William Street and that became their new home. By the 1890s the membership had expanded to over 40 families, a large Hebrew school had been instituted, and larger quarters were needed. It was then that they decided to purchase land and to construct a new house of worship. The new structure was a magnificent, large brownstone and brick building on Olive Street, the neighborhood where most of the German and Polish Jews, the majority of their membership, lived and worked. This building was used by the congregation until the congregation dissolved in 1936.

When the building was being remodeled for office use in 1987, the B’nai Scholom cornerstone from 1895 was uncovered. It was opened, and the historic records and documents (including bylaws, programs, newspaper articles, officers and members) were given to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven.

  • Text source courtesy Werner S. Hirsch, Jews in New Haven, Vol. V pp 95-96.

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