Please Note: That The Location of Mincha/Maariv (M-Th Only) Alternates Weekly Between The Bridge Shul And Shaare Hatikvah (711 West 179th Street Between B’Way & Ft. Washington)
A Brief History of the Washington Heights Congregation
One hundred years ago, the Washington Heights Congregation purchased the lot upon which the beautiful 161st Street Synagogue would be built. Five years earlier, 20 people started the congregation and elected their first president, Isidor Kottle. In 1914, the Washington Heights Congregation adopted its constitution. Then, in 1915, the newly erected Shul building that would serve as a home for the congregation for the next 56 years was dedicated.
During this period, the congregation reflected the traditions and tenor of its times. Always an Orthodox Shul, and for many years, the only Modern Orthodox Shul in Washington Heights, our congregation joined the Union of Orthodox Congregations after 1928. It started a Talmud Torah which, by 1916, could boast of having over 200 children. By 1918, a separate building was needed to house the growing school.
Many Rabbis served as its spiritual leaders during the early years, beginning with Rabbi Moses Rosenthal ??”? in 1914. In 1919, we engaged a dynamic Rabbi, Rabbi Max Drob ??”?. His sermons were so exciting, that on Shabbos he was able to draw 500 congregants and on Yom Tov, there were up to 700 people who attended services. Rabbi Sol Friedman ??”?, followed in 1932, until, in 1941, we enter the history of our Shul as many of us remember it, when Rabbi Irving Weinberg ??”? became our spiritual leader, and held that role memorably for the next 33 years.
Presidents during this early period included Emanuel Hertz ?”?, Morris Morgenstern ?”?, Sol Littenberg ?”?, Herman Taub ?”?, Abraham Metchick ?”?, Morris Block ?”? and David Gotthelf ?”?. Saul Nyer ?”?, was our next president. He, together with David Gotthelf ?”?, are remembered as outstanding leaders, made for the times, as they helped integrate the new immigrants that were swept here by the catastrophic war that brought so many of our European brothers to our neighborhood and to our Shul. Again, with Saul Nyer ?”?, we enter a part of the history of our Shul that touches the lives of so many of our members.
The 1950s brought both Chazan Shlomo Z. Schweid ????”?? (1950) and Mr. Joseph Schallamach ?”?? (1951) to our Shul. Each, in his own way, contributed to the unique character and make up of our Shul. In 1959, after serving as Vice President for ten years and as a trusted aide to Saul Nyer ?”?, Julius Hirsch ?”? became president of our congregation.
It should be noted that throughout the Shul