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Where to Find Harlem's Old Synagogues

Where to find Harlem's old synagogues
Bethel Way of the Cross Church of Christ was originally Congregation Shaare Zedek synagogue.

Harlem today is justly famous for its Baptist churches, the source of countless inspirational sermons and soul-stirring gospel music.

But during the heyday of Jewish Harlem—from about 1870 to 1930, when it was the third largest Jewish settlement in the world—the neighborhood was brimming with synagogues.

So where are they now?

Where to find Harlem's old synagogues
Mt. Olivet Baptist Church was once Temple Israel.

Most are hidden in plain sight. Harlem's synagogues quickly changed hands after the Jewish population moved out of the neighborhood in the 1920s, transforming into churches with predominantly Black congregations.

In fact some of Harlem's most prominent houses of worship, including Mount Olivet Baptist Church on Lenox Avenue, are former synagogues. The grand neo-Roman building was once Temple Israel.

Medallions with Stars of David still decorate the columns at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.

Look carefully and small architectural details point to their past.

Medallions with Stars of David decorate the tops of the columns of Mt. Olivet as well as the stained glass windows of the Bethel Way of the Cross Church of Christ, a Moorish Revival beauty on W 118th Street.

The tops of the stained glass windows at Bethel Way of the Cross Church of Christ feature Stars of David.

Set out on your own tour of notable Harlem churches that were once synagogues using the following list, originally compiled by the New York Times.

But don't wait too long: Baptist Temple Church, once Congregation Ohab Zedek, has been demolished since it was featured in an earlier version of this post.


Listed from south to north:

Christ Apostolic Church 160 E 112th St between Lexington and Third Aves

Once Congregation Tikvath Israel and Congregation Ansche Chesed

Mount Neboh Baptist Church 1883 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and W 114th St

Originally Congregation Ansche Chesed (also once a Catholic church)

Salvation and Deliverance Church 37 W 116th St between Fifth and Lenox Aves

Once Institutional Synagogue

Bethel Way of the Cross Church of Christ 25 W 118th St between Fifth and Lenox Aves

Originally Congregation Shaare Zedek

Mt. Olivet Baptist Church 201 Lenox Ave and W 120th St

Originally Temple Israel

City Tabernacle Seventh-Day Adventist Church 562 W 150th St between Amsterdam and Broadway

Originally Mount Neboh Synagogue

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