Founded in 1837, by Polish Jews, Shaare Zedek is the third oldest Jewish congregation in New York City. The congregation originally met at 38 Henry Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In 1850, it purchased a building at 38 Henry Street (still on the Lower East Side) that was originally built by a Quaker congregation in 1828 that had been converted for use as a synagogue by congregation Ansche Chesed in 1840. The congregation replaced this building with a new building on the same property in 1891 and in 1900 opened a branch synagogue at 25 West 118th Street in the newly-fashionable neighborhood of Harlem. The building is now a church. The Henry Street building was sold to Congregation Mishkan Israel Anshei Suwalk in 1911.
Shaare Zedek's present, elaborate, Neoclassical building was designed by the architecture firm of Sommerfeld and Steckler and built in 1922/3.
Since July 2006 the congregation has been led by Rabbi Julia Andelman and President Richard Friedman. Although Shaare Zedek was the last Conservative synagogue in the area to allow fully egalitarian worship, women now participate in every aspect of the service and the congregation has hired its first female rabbi. While preserving the traditional liturgy quite closely and committing to a fairly strict observance of Jewish law, the community is generally politically and socially progressive. Jews of all sexual orientations and races are fully welcomed.
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