Although a synagogue structure is not necessary for Jewish prayer, the building of a synagogue represents the creation of a center for both worship and community. In a synagogue, Jews join together not only to pray, but to study, socialize, educate their children, and to care for the needs of their own members as well as the larger community. There were once thirteen synagogues in Hartford, CT. There are no longer any active congregations remaining in the city, although a number of the buildings are still in existence. Some are abandoned and have fallen into disrepair, and others have been repurposed, often as churches. This web exhibit utilizes the archive of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford to offer images and information on the synagogues that once existed in Hartford.
The second East European Orthodox congregation in Hartford was the Agudas Achim, whose official name was Agudas Achim Anshei Sefard, and which was commonly known as the Rumainishe shul (the Romanian synagogue). The "sefard" (Spain) in the official name refers to the fact that Romanian Jews were greatly influenced by the Hassidic movement, who used the Ari prayer book for worship. Since the compiler of that prayer book was of Sefardic origin, its use became known as nusach sefard (the prayer tradition of Spain). It is likely that the founders of Agudas Achim felt uncomfortable in the only other Orthodox synagogue, Ados Israel, and wanted to establish a synagogue that would use the prayer book in common use in their home country.
The congregation was officially established on October 4, 1887. Like other congregations of those days, it originally met in homes and rented halls. Newspaper accounts indicate that Agudas Achim held the 1897 High Holiday services in Turner Bund Hall; that it was incorporated on August 18, 1898; that its first president was Morris Kohenfield (Moshe Kornfield), and that its declared object was "to build and uphold a synagogue, to own a cemetery, and to provide the interment of members therein "without expense." According to land records, Agudas Achim secured title to a parcel of land at 296 Market Street and, in 1902 or 1903, the congregation erected a synagogue in the rear of this dwelling.
In 1926, Agudas Achim bought property at 221 Greenfield Street and sold the Market Street building to the Hartford Courant on July 3, 1929. It was later razed as part of an urban renewal project. The congregation erected a new synagogue on Greenfield Street and dedicated it on September 9, 1928. In 1955, a new school wing and auditorium were added. In 1967, these facilities were leased to the Hartford Board of Education and Agudas Achim later erected a new synagogue and school at 1224 North Main Street, West Hartford. Rabbi Abraham N. AvRutick was the congregation's Rabbi for 36 years starting in 1946.