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The Bialystoker Synagogue at 7-11 Willett Street on the Lower East Sidemarker of Manhattanmarker, New York Citymarker, New York Statemarker is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue. The physical building is registered as an historic landmark.


The Bialystoker Synagogue was first organized in 1865 on Manhattan's Lower East Sidemarker as the Chevra Anshei Chesed of Bialystok, founded by a group of Jews who came from town of Białystokmarker in Polandmarker. The congregation was begun in a building on Hester Street, then it later moved to Orchard Street, and ultimately to its present location 7-11 Bialystoker Place on the Lower East Side.

In order to accommodate the influx of new immigrants from that area of Poland, in 1905 the congregation merged with congregation Hadas Yeshuan, also from Bialystok, and formed the Bait Ha'Knesset Anshi Bialystok (The Bialystoker Synagogue). The newly formed congregation then purchased and moved into The Willett Street Methodist Episcopal Church at 7 Willet Street (now 7-11 Willet Street, later renamed Bialystoker Place). 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 fieldstone Methodist Episcopal Church building was built in 1826 with a simple Pedimented roof and round arched windows. . 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 pediment roof with a lunette window and a wooden cornice.

The elaborate Torah Ark is believed to have been carved in Bialystokmarker and shipped to New York.

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 Manhattan. Richard McBee and Dodi-Lee Hecht have both written in-depth articles about the building.

As the synagogue is home to an Orthodox Jewish congregation, a balcony section was constructed to accommodate female congregants. In the corner of the women’s gallery a small hidden door in the wall that leads to a ladder going up to an attic, lit by two windows was constructed. When it was first opened, the building was a rest stop for the Underground Railroad movement; runaway slaves found sanctuary in this attic.

When the air conditioning was updated in the 1990's, an issue arose in the construction of rooftop units because of the building's historical landmark status. Because of these concerns, the cooling units were installed on the side of the building.

Present activity

In 1988 the congregation restored the interior to its original splendor, and the former Hebrew school building that is attached, but had become dilapidated, was renovated and reopened as The Daniel Potkorony Building. The magnificent stained glass windows were recently completely recreated and renewed.
Newly Restored Stained Glass Window
Reading the Book of Esther on Purim 2007 at Bialystoker
Synagogue interior-Purim 2007

See also


  1. "AIA Guide to New York City", 4th Edition, pg 93

External links

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