9. Bialystoker is the Oldest Building Used as a Synagogue in NYC

Stained glass window with a Jewish star

The Bialystoker Synagogue building, constructed in 1826, is a full 61 years older than the nearby Eldridge Street Synagogue, which was built in 1887. It is the oldest building used as a synagogue not only on the Lower East Side, but all of New York City.

Nonetheless, the conversion of churches into synagogues was not without controversy. As the Eldridge Street Synagogue reports on its website, “…when Jews were first moving to America, they had to seriously question whether or not the use of former churches complied with Rabbinic law. Once rabbinic authorities in Poland confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol congregation purchasing the Norfolk Street Baptist Church in 1885, the conversion of churches into synagogues became the norm.”