This month, our Untapped New York Insiders will have the opportunity to explore the sanctuary of the oldest synagogue in continuous use in New York City, Central Synagogue. Designated a New York City Landmark in 1966 and a National Historic Landmark in 1975, this synagogue was designed by prominent Jewish architect Henry Fernbach. At the building’s dedication in 1872, Rabbi Adolph Heubsch described it as “a house of worship in evidence of the high degree of development only possible under a condition of freedom.”

Exterior of Central Synagogue on the Lower East Side

On this docent led tour, Insiders will get to see the stunning 1,400 seat sanctuary which features two domed towers, colorful stained glass, including a great rose window which represents an interpretation of the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest, ornate stencil work on the walls, the Gabe M. Wiener Memorial Organ, intricately carved walnut and ash pews and beautiful patterned floor tile work. The beauty of the synagogue today is thanks to extensive renovation work that took place after a fire in 1998 which caused part of the roof to collapse. Thankfully, all of stained glass windows, the exterior walls, and the original ark were saved.

Central Synagogue Interior

The history of this congregation dates back to the early 1800s. The modern day congregation is descended from two parent congregations, Shaar Hashomayim and Ahawath Chesed, which were founded by German-speaking immigrants. The two congregations eventually merged and became known as Central Synagogue.

Registration will begin at noon today for this free tour. If you’re already an Untapped New York Insider, register at this link at 12 PM. If you’re not an Insider yet and would like to join this tour, Become an Insider today!


See our full list of Untapped New York Insiders member events  and our upcoming public tours.

Header photo from Wikimedia Commons by Gryffindor