Posts Tagged ‘South Bronx Jewish life’

The Bronx: once “the most Jewish borough”

May 8, 2011

When you think of Jews in New York, the Lower East Side, Brooklyn, and the Upper West Side come to mind.

But in the middle of the 20th century, the Bronx had more residents of Jewish descent than any other borough.

In 1930, about 49 percent of the Bronx was Jewish, according to the Bronx County Clerk’s Office, mostly centered in South Bronx neighborhoods and along the apartment houses of the Grand Concourse.

[Above: a daycare center today, but a synagogue decades ago on Crotona Park East]

A New York Times article put it at 37 percent in 1945; bronxsynagogues.org has the high at 57 percent in 1930 in the South Bronx.

“There were four synagogues organized within two blocks of Third Avenue before 1900 (before the elevated was completed in 1902). By 1910, thirteen had been organized in the same area and that constituted almost 40 percent of all the synagogues in the South Bronx.”

[Above: an abandoned synagogue at 1835 University Avenue]

After World War II, Bronx Jews split for the suburbs. The borough’s ethnic makeup quickly changed; by 1960, it was two-thirds Black and Hispanic.

[Right, an empty synagogue at 1650 Morris Park Avenue]

[All photos from bronxsynagogues.org]