CT News

Newtown’s Congregation Adath Israel marks 100 years

NEWTOWN– Congregation Adath Israel will welcome in Shabbat on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m., with a special service marking its 100th year serving the greater Newtown Jewish community. We will celebrate history, heritage and our community. The service will be followed by a celebratory Oneg Shabbat.

Members of the community along with religious and political leaders are expected to attend the service.

Speakers will share memories, stories and the history of Adath Israel.

Congregation Adath Israel was founded in the early 1900s by Orthodox Jews fleeing poverty and persecution in Eastern Europe. After settling in Newtown as farmers, the congregation worshipped for several years without a synagogue or rabbi.

On July 4, 1914, ground was broken for the synagogue building on land donated by Israel and Rose Nezvesky. Israel also purchased the first Torah and, in gratitude, the synagogue was named Adath Israel, meaning “Assembly of Israel.”

When Adath Israel opened its doors in 1919 it had no heat or water. The congregation’s first spiritual leader, Samuel Steinfeld, arrived in 1923.

In 1938, following the death of Rabbi Steinfeld, services were led by Max Newman and other lay leaders with various cantors and rabbis being hired to lead High Holiday services. From the late 1980s to current day, the synagogue has been led by both full and part-time rabbis and skilled lay leaders.

The 1960s and ‘70s brought change. Heat, water, indoor plumbing, and a new social hall were added. The congregation reorganized and changed from an Orthodox to a Modern Conservative doctrine in which women participated in worship services.

In 2005, Adath Israel broke ground for a new building close by the original Adath Israel. It was again on land donated by the Nezvesky family. Descendants of the original farmers participated in the groundbreaking ceremony, many of whom are still members today.

In September 2007, the new building opened, with the congregation parading the shul’s Torah scrolls down the street to its new spiritual home.

To learn more, visit www.congadathisrael.org or e-mail office@congadathisrael.org.


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