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Four men and one woman of the Weisberg family, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, 1916
Four men and one woman of the Weisberg family, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, 1916

The Jewish Community of New Haven, CT

New Haven

The principal municipality of Greater New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

New Haven was settled in 1638 by Puritans, who saw their new home as a wilderness Zion based on Biblical law. The first Jews, brothers Jacob and Solomon Pinto, arrived 120 years later, in 1758. They soon became heavily involved in the life of the town. With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Jacob Pinto's three sons, Solomon, Abraham, and William, joined the Continental Army. In 1783, Jacob Pinto signed the petition to Connecticut's General Assembly which led to the incorporation of New Haven as a town.

President Ezra Stiles (who was not Jewish) of Yale College recorded in his diary the arrival of an unnamed Venetian Jewish family in the summer of 1772 who observed the Sabbath in a traditional manner, "worshipping by themselves in a room in which were lights and a suspended lamp." He noted that this was purely private Jewish worship, since the Venetians were too few to constitute a minyan (prayer quorum), "so that if thereafter there should be a synagogue in New Haven, it must not be dated from this."

A slow influx of Jews began arriving around 1840. Enough families arrived from Bavaria that eventually there was, indeed, a need for a synagogue in New Haven, which they named Congregation Mishkan Israel. The community acquired a cemetery in 1843. Mishkan Israel was New England's second congregation, and the 14th in the United States. Shortly after its founding, however, conflicts stemming from religious differences began to emerge. It became clear that while some members of the community were drawn towards more modern approaches to Jewish practice, others were more traditional. In 1846, a Reform group broke away and created its own congregation.

Until 1854, the New Haven congregation met for services in a variety of local halls. In 1854, Mishkan Israel and other US congregations received a bequest from the estate of philanthropist Judah Touro. With this money, Mishkan Israel purchased and renovated a church to serve as its first synagogue building. By then, the Reform segment of the congregation had become the majority and in 1855 the Orthodox members seceded and established B'nai Sholom Congregation, which functioned as a small congregation until it closed in the 1930s (though the congregation's cemetery remained).

Mishkan Israel prospered over the decades, led by German-Jewish rabbis who maintained close ties with Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise and the growing Reform movement in the United States. The congregation underwent significant changes at the end of the 19th century; in 1897 it built a large Byzantine-style synagogue building that reflected the community's growing affluence. Additionally, services and sermons, which were previously in German, began to be conducted in English.

The first Jewish refugees from Russia arrived in February 1882 and were followed by a steady influx of Russian-Jewish families. By 1887, the Jewish population had grown to about 3,200; during the next decade it grew to about 8,000, spurred by the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903 that brought many Jews from the area to the US. By the start of World War I, there were about 20,000 Jews living in New Haven.

B'nai Jacob Congregation was established in 1882, and was the first congregation established by Eastern European immigrants to New Haven. It eventually grew to become New Haven's largest Conservative Congregation.

The first organized charitable organization established by the Jews of New Haven was the Hebrew Benevolent Society, founded in 1881 by the established German Jews in order to help the Russian-Jewish immigrants who were newly arriving. These Russian-Jewish immigrants, in turn, established the Hebrew Charity Society in 1885. In 1910, the Sisterhood of Mishkan Israel began to devote itself to charitable works, even opening a separate office for this purpose. These three charitable organizations were eventually incorporated under the United Jewish Charities.

By the mid-1920s, New Haven had over 60 religious, charitable, fraternal, and Zionist organizations serving the Jewish community. These included the Jewish Home for Children, the Jewish Home for the Aged, and the Yong Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association. Community leaders, recognizing that these organizations needed some degree of organization and coordination, created the New Haven Jewish Community Council in 1929, to which member organizations elected delegates. The council's efforts resulted in the creation of the Jewish Welfare Fund and the Bureau of Jewish Education. The Jewish Family Service was created in 1939.

Since the 1950s, Jewish education has grown in New Haven, with the emergence of synagogue schools, a Chabad-sponsored Hebrew Day School, and the Conservative Ezra Academy, all of which are coordinated by the Bureau of Jewish Education. Yale University has also had an impact on the community; many of the community's lawyers and physicians have studied there. Jewish student needs are served at Yale through the Hillel.

Of the 11 Orthodox congregations that sprang up in New Haven during the height of Eastern European immigration to the US, 4 remained by 1968. Around 1970, the population of New Haven was 135,468, 22,000 of which were Jews.

By the end of the year 2000, approximately 25,000 Jews lived in the Greater New Haven area. Within this area, Westville had the largest concentration of Jewish inhabitants. One member of the New Haven Jewish community of particular note is Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president during the 2000 presidential race, attended the Westville Synagogue.

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The Jewish Community of New Haven, CT

New Haven

The principal municipality of Greater New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

New Haven was settled in 1638 by Puritans, who saw their new home as a wilderness Zion based on Biblical law. The first Jews, brothers Jacob and Solomon Pinto, arrived 120 years later, in 1758. They soon became heavily involved in the life of the town. With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Jacob Pinto's three sons, Solomon, Abraham, and William, joined the Continental Army. In 1783, Jacob Pinto signed the petition to Connecticut's General Assembly which led to the incorporation of New Haven as a town.

President Ezra Stiles (who was not Jewish) of Yale College recorded in his diary the arrival of an unnamed Venetian Jewish family in the summer of 1772 who observed the Sabbath in a traditional manner, "worshipping by themselves in a room in which were lights and a suspended lamp." He noted that this was purely private Jewish worship, since the Venetians were too few to constitute a minyan (prayer quorum), "so that if thereafter there should be a synagogue in New Haven, it must not be dated from this."

A slow influx of Jews began arriving around 1840. Enough families arrived from Bavaria that eventually there was, indeed, a need for a synagogue in New Haven, which they named Congregation Mishkan Israel. The community acquired a cemetery in 1843. Mishkan Israel was New England's second congregation, and the 14th in the United States. Shortly after its founding, however, conflicts stemming from religious differences began to emerge. It became clear that while some members of the community were drawn towards more modern approaches to Jewish practice, others were more traditional. In 1846, a Reform group broke away and created its own congregation.

Until 1854, the New Haven congregation met for services in a variety of local halls. In 1854, Mishkan Israel and other US congregations received a bequest from the estate of philanthropist Judah Touro. With this money, Mishkan Israel purchased and renovated a church to serve as its first synagogue building. By then, the Reform segment of the congregation had become the majority and in 1855 the Orthodox members seceded and established B'nai Sholom Congregation, which functioned as a small congregation until it closed in the 1930s (though the congregation's cemetery remained).

Mishkan Israel prospered over the decades, led by German-Jewish rabbis who maintained close ties with Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise and the growing Reform movement in the United States. The congregation underwent significant changes at the end of the 19th century; in 1897 it built a large Byzantine-style synagogue building that reflected the community's growing affluence. Additionally, services and sermons, which were previously in German, began to be conducted in English.

The first Jewish refugees from Russia arrived in February 1882 and were followed by a steady influx of Russian-Jewish families. By 1887, the Jewish population had grown to about 3,200; during the next decade it grew to about 8,000, spurred by the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903 that brought many Jews from the area to the US. By the start of World War I, there were about 20,000 Jews living in New Haven.

B'nai Jacob Congregation was established in 1882, and was the first congregation established by Eastern European immigrants to New Haven. It eventually grew to become New Haven's largest Conservative Congregation.

The first organized charitable organization established by the Jews of New Haven was the Hebrew Benevolent Society, founded in 1881 by the established German Jews in order to help the Russian-Jewish immigrants who were newly arriving. These Russian-Jewish immigrants, in turn, established the Hebrew Charity Society in 1885. In 1910, the Sisterhood of Mishkan Israel began to devote itself to charitable works, even opening a separate office for this purpose. These three charitable organizations were eventually incorporated under the United Jewish Charities.

By the mid-1920s, New Haven had over 60 religious, charitable, fraternal, and Zionist organizations serving the Jewish community. These included the Jewish Home for Children, the Jewish Home for the Aged, and the Yong Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association. Community leaders, recognizing that these organizations needed some degree of organization and coordination, created the New Haven Jewish Community Council in 1929, to which member organizations elected delegates. The council's efforts resulted in the creation of the Jewish Welfare Fund and the Bureau of Jewish Education. The Jewish Family Service was created in 1939.

Since the 1950s, Jewish education has grown in New Haven, with the emergence of synagogue schools, a Chabad-sponsored Hebrew Day School, and the Conservative Ezra Academy, all of which are coordinated by the Bureau of Jewish Education. Yale University has also had an impact on the community; many of the community's lawyers and physicians have studied there. Jewish student needs are served at Yale through the Hillel.

Of the 11 Orthodox congregations that sprang up in New Haven during the height of Eastern European immigration to the US, 4 remained by 1968. Around 1970, the population of New Haven was 135,468, 22,000 of which were Jews.

By the end of the year 2000, approximately 25,000 Jews lived in the Greater New Haven area. Within this area, Westville had the largest concentration of Jewish inhabitants. One member of the New Haven Jewish community of particular note is Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president during the 2000 presidential race, attended the Westville Synagogue.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People