Synagogues  /  Beth Jacob

Beth Jacob, also known as the Clinton Street Shul was founded in the nineteenth century as a breakaway from Congregation Brith Sholem.


Beth Jacob synagogue was founded in 1881 based on orthodox lines drawing members of Prussian, Lithuanian and Polish Jewish origins, many of whom came from Suwalki. It closed in the 1940s. Despite the fact that this congregation was formed in 1881, and might have been created as a response to newly arriving immigrants fleeing the pogroms in Russia, it was a local response of families already settled in Buffalo who split away from Congregation Brith Sholem. The first meeting of the congregation was held on October 2, 1881, and it was formerly incorporated on November 20, 1881. The cemetery was founded a year later in 1882 and located on Doat Street in Buffalo, where it is now supported by the Jewish Federation Cemetery Corporation. The new congregation, like so many others in its early days, first met in private homes, but by 1894 it built on Walnut and Clinton Streets, and thereafter was locally known as the Clinton Street Shul. The shul was demolished in 1959 to make way for urban redevelopment. Some of its founder members included Jacob H. Mayerberg, Louis Rubenstein, Joseph Saperston, David Friedlander, Simon Harris and Simon Cohen, some of whose family branches were inter-related and their descendants still live in Buffalo. Harry Singer, known as “Hazzan Singer” was the first Hazzan (Hebrew: prayer leader) at Beth Jacob, although he eventually moved over to the rival Congregation Brith Sholem. Rabbis associated with the synagogue included Rabbi Raphael Josephson (who moved to Baltimore), Rabbi M.G. Levensohn and Rabbi Israel M. Fineberg who was a Talmudist trained at the Volozhin Yeshiva (rabbinical seminary). Active members in its last decades included: Joseph Sapowitch and Morris Diamond, both of who were closely identified with the provision of Jewish education.


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Although a guide to Cleanup and Restoration of the Beth Jacob Cemetery work carried out in 2008 is available through the University at Buffalo, University Archives, there are currently no known archives of this congregation. We are seeking information about the architect of the synagogue building as well as organizational photographs, documents, mementos or written recollections relating to Beth Jacob for digitization.

If you have materials relating to Beth Jacob and you’d like to make them available for this purpose, please contact us.