4. The Kane Street Synagogue, the oldest operating synagogue in Brooklyn, was where Aaron Copland was Bar Mitzvah’ed

Kane Street Synagogue in Cobble Hill
Kane Street Synagogue

The Kane Street Synagogue, also known as Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes, has existed in its present location since 1905, although the congregation was founded in 1856. The Romanesque revival building was previously erected as the Middle Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in 1855. In 1862, after rabbi Aaron Wise split and created the Reform Congregation Beth Elohim, members of Baith Israel opened the first synagogue on Long Island in nearby Boerum Hill. After a number of failed mergers with nearby synagogues, the synagogue was met with financial hardship until the early 20th century with a successful merger and the acquisition of new property. Membership peaked in the 1920s, although the Great Depression led to a steady decline.

In 1913, famed composer Aaron Copland had his Bar Mitzvah at the synagogue, which was led by Copland’s father Harris. The family lived above H.M. Copland’s Department Store. Aaron’s brother Ralph also served as superintendent of the Sunday School. Rabbi Israel Goldfarb helped launch Copland’s musical career, making an agreement with Copland’s father that Aaron would study music for two or three years before switching to study law if that failed.