The Actors’ Temple in Hell’s Kitchen


Sundays now get us to, and around and about Hell’s Kitchen where we stumbled upon the Actors’ Temple, just off Broadway on 47th Street. What’s posted outside by way of information is more or less what I found on Wikipedia, which is this: The Actors’ Temple, officially named Congregation Ezrath Israel, is a synagogue founded in 1917. Since 1923, the temple was originally dubbed “The West Side Hebrew Relief Association”, and it was the synagogue of choice for the entertainment industry. Many vaudeville, musical theater, television, and nightclub performers attended services there, including Sophie TuckerShelley WintersMilton BerleAl JolsonJack BennyJoe E. LewisEdward G. Robinson, as well as several of the Three StoogesThe synagogue doubles as an off-Broadway theater venue. Light and venacular, the building facade is at once gorgeous and modest, and catches the sun on a bright afternoon in autumn. The small neighborhood feel is working class in origin, reminding me of an old synagogue long ago turned into residential apartments that I used to walk by in the Mission District in San Francisco when I was in graduate school.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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