Behind the Scenes Tour of B’nai Israel Synagogue

Image courtesy Monument City

With its Moorish-Revival architecture and deep roots in Baltimore’s Eastern European Jewish community, the B’nai Israel Synagogue is a magnificent historic building with a congregation that has played a central part of the fascinating story of immigration and change in East Baltimore. Please join us for a tour of the synagogue with B’nai Israel historian Fred Shoken and other members of the congregation.

We are also partnering with the neighboring Jewish Museum of Maryland for a tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue in a two-part exploration of Jewish heritage in Baltimore. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue tour shortly.

Tour Information

Dates: Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Time: 5:45 PM: Kosher wine and cheese reception
6:00 to 7:00 PM: tour
Place: 27 Lloyd Street (Baltimore, MD 21202)
Parking is available along nearby streets
Cost: $15 (includes wine and cheese reception)
Registration: Click Here to Register

Incorporated in 1873 shortly after the end of the Civil War as the “Russian Congregation B’nai Israel of Baltimore City,” B’nai Israel was formed by Eastern European Jews living at a hub of Jewish Baltimore along the Jones Falls River. The founding members were shoemakers and clothiers, and despite the nod to Russia in the synagogue’s name, many actually hailed from Poland. Between 1880 and 1905, Baltimore’s Jewish population swelled from 10,000 to 25,000, and many German congregations moved out of east Baltimore and downtown. B’nai Israel took advantage of the exodus, and laid down $12,000 in 1895 to buy the synagogue it now occupies on Lloyd Street from the Chizuk Amuno congregation. While many East Baltimore congregations closed or left the city following World War II, B’nai Israel remained, perhaps part of a Talmudic obligation to protect at least one shul in every city. After years of decline, fortunes turned around in the late 1970s, when the congregation began to grow and restoration work on the synagogue began. The building dates to the late 19th century, before the advent of modern architecture trends in American synagogues. Its large central window, stained glass, and interior sanctuary are heavily influenced by Eastern Mediterranean and Byzantine architecture. The sanctuary’s original ceiling, with frescoes akin to those in European churches, remains intact, as does a tremendous hand-carved ark in the central sanctuary. Please join us and our hosts, the B’nai Israel congregation and synagogue members Michele Rosenberg and historian Fred Shoken, for a tour of this wonderful building.

Space is limited on the tour. Confirmations will be sent by email, and payment will be due upon confirmation. For additional information and questions, call Baltimore Heritage at 410-332-9992. This tour series is made possible in part by a generous contribution from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Thank you to our 50th Anniversary Year Sponsors!

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