Sons of Israel in Asbury Park

Congregation  Sons of Israel in Asbury Park
Congregation Sons of Israel in Asbury Park, now a church

Congregation Sons of Israel in Asbury Park, an Orthodox Jewish congregation, was founded in 1904. The congregation has since moved away from Asbury Park, but for several decades it was housed in this building in Asbury Park. A few weeks ago we rented a four wheel cycle (pedal car) from Brielle Cyclery on the Asbury Park boardwalk and cycled past the building, which now belongs to a church (First French Speaking Baptist Church).

Asbury Park Sons of Israel
The building now has two large crosses in the front: one has to look carefully to see signs that it was built as a synagogue. Details to notice are the stained glass windows.

windows of Congregation Sons of Israel
What do you see in those windows? I see a Torah, menorah, ner tamid, a book, a dove, and possibly someone praying in a prayer shawl on the right.

5709 Sons of Israel
Also, if you look carefully at the carvings in the front you will see the Hebrew date of 5709 and the corresponding Gregorian date of 1949, the year the building was built for Congregation Sons of Israel.

For more information on the history of Jewish Asbury Park, see Asbury Park: Pictorial History in Brief.

See also a photo in this book Asbury Park.

See more Our World Tuesday.

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31 thoughts on “Sons of Israel in Asbury Park

    • I don’t know how often this happens. Often Jewish communities move, but the old buildings don’t necessarily become churches. In New Brunswick, one old synagogue had a fire, so that gave them insurance money to move to Highland Park. One old synagogue is still in New Brunswick and still used as a synagogue.

      • ב”ה

        And one old synagogue is now (and has been for years) a church. (update — there was a fire in the synagogue still in NB — the shell of the building is still there and the congregation does still meet — I think it’s on campus now???)

  • Re: the windows, as well as what you said:
    Top row: second from right: megillah and gregor,
    Middle row: second from left: chanukiah and dreidels,
    Bottom row: far left: scales and sword [represents justice, presumably]; second from left: arbah minim [appropriate!]; far right: hands of kohen duchaning possibly with tallit.

    There’s a building in the East End of London that was a Huguenot church originally, then a shul in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and is now a mosque.

    • Daniel, good eye. What I thought was someone praying seems to be, as you say, a kohen duhaning (priestly blessing).

      Interesting about the old church/synagogue/mosque.

  • It looks a beautiful building – it has an art deco feel to it. Then on closer inspection you see that amazing stained glass window with so much going on. Enjoyed reading your post.

  • I wonder how often this happens. I know someone who bought an old chapel and renovated it for his home. It must be hard when there are people living who remember what was once a sacred place for their religion and is changed either for secular use or for use by a different religion. Interesting post.

    • I would find it hard to live in a building that was once a house of worship for any religion. I know of some beautiful condominiums that were created from a renovated church in Brookline, MA. Obviously, some people don’t mind at all.

      • I used to walk by the church in Brookline as a teen and fantasize about living in the apt. with the rose window. In DC a shul became a church and is now a synagogue again. It wasn’t really sad when it was a church because there was no Jewish community in the neighborhood and the community had moved. In fact, many of the formerly DC (city) communities moved to the suburbs but kept their names–so you can really see that they are vibrant communities in a different location. It’s neat that the shul in DC–now known as 6th & I synagogue–is a shul again. It’s nondenominational and has various services and other cultural events. The change has nothing to do with losses in the Jewish community and much to do with the changing fortunes of the neighborhood–now trendy all over again.

  • I lived, and davened there until 1984, my parents were there since the early 1950’s. It is quite sad that this is the outcome of the building that housed so many beautiful teffilos and mitzvos for decades.

    We moved aaway before the last Rabbi was installed and ulitmiately, it is what it is. Not a great testament to the historic beauty of it’s past.

  • Dear, dear Leora,

    I have been searching for several years now for any information on what happened to the stained glass windows when the building was sold. I am 89 years old now, and my parents donated the money for more than one of those windows, so I am thrilled to see that they are still intact. May many more generations of congregants enjoy and be inspired by them, no matter their religion.

    Thank you so much for doing what no one else has been able to, show me photos of that grand old building. I am drowning in memories right now, and they are all blissful. I can’t wait to show your blog to my children and grandchildren, and tell stories of “the old days in Asbury Park”. I cannot thank you enough for bringing me such pleasure.

    Solomon Ross

    • Solomon,

      I’m glad to hear our trip to see the building is such a pleasure for you – I can understand how the memories of your parents and the windows are important to you.

      Best wishes,


  • I was a congregant of this shool, went to Hillel day school and was Bar-Mitzva’d here. It was financed into perpetuity by my grandfather Samuel Banker of Banker’s Furniture Asbury Park.
    Leviticus 27:28
    “Notwithstanding no devoted thing.. shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord.”
    The misappropriating of this Shool into idolatry and theft of it’s funding is a shameful thieving heresy.

      • This wasn’t a sale it was a theft. Not saddened but ANGRY. And there is murder of my kid sister Shari involved who was Valor Dictorian in Judaic studies at Hillel day school.
        And what “vibrant” Jewish community here are you speaking of? Haven’t you been hearing about all these so called Rabbis getting busted for various criminal activities? Is that your idea of “vibrant”?

      • Anger is fine. I live in Highland Park – our community is certainly vibrant. I answered a friend with the word “vibrant” and was thinking of my own community.

  • I grew up in this Shul…Rabbi Schmidman, Rabbi Goldstein….I have met Rabbi Carlebach….i can close my eyes and hear Cantor Blau….close my eyes and be transported back…sitting with my family on the women’s side of the mechitzah….peeking through the mechitzah to see the rest of my family….following along in a siddur…..looking at the memorial trees….sitting in the park across the street during Yizkor services….so many memories….and so many people from then now in Chesed Shel Emes in Neptune….it was my home…it will always be my home…regardless of who “davens” there….it remains a House of G-d…..

  • And if you attended services as a kid, who will ever forget Mr. Lindner who used to prick your ear if you were talking. Cantor Blau was my bar mitzvah teacher. My twin brother and I were also the first twin bar mitzvah to occur there or so we were told. They sent out a minyan so that both of us could recite the haftorah. We always looked forward to a kiddush when it was catered by Ruth Meistrich. I once visted the building after it had been sold. You get a very strange feeling but the Mogen David that was cantilevered over the pulpit was still there. The good old dyas

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