7. Magen David Synagogue is one of the oldest remnants of Jewish history in Bensonhurst

Magen David Synagogue in Bensonhurst

Magen David Synagogue, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is just over a century old, erected in 1920-1921. The synagogue was established as a Sephardic Syrian-Jewish congregation, reaching peak numbers during the 1940s and ’50s. The Romanesque Revival building, designed by Maurice Courland, includes many brick designs with round arched windows. The synagogue is still active today, though many Syrian Jews moved to neighboring Midwood and Gravesend.

Many Syrian Jews moved to New York from Damascus and Aleppo around 1907-1908 due to the shifting political landscape in Syria and threats of conscription. Many at first moved to the Lower East Side, working as peddlers and for the lucky few, shopkeepers. By 1918, the Syrian-Jewish population in New York reached about 5,000, and some who were more financially stable moved to Williamsburg. Another influx of Syrian Jews arrived in 1919, many moving to Bensonhurst thanks to the completion of the Sea Beach line of the BMT subway, which led many in the community to advocate for a congregation.