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 Beth Sholom Synagogue community organized with a merger of the Blue Hills Synagogue and Kahileth Synagogue, and would later merge with Beth Hillel in Hartford in 1969. Services were held at the Children's Home (the site of Mt. Sinai Hospital) and in the Oakhill School for the Blind on Holcomb Street in Hartford. Milton Levenberg was the synagogue's first President and Rabbi Lester Harbater was its first spiritual leader (1954).
In 1955, ground was broken for the Beth Sholom Synagogue (pictured above) on the corner of Cornwall and Andover Streets in Hartford. Tragically, Rabbi Harbater died shortly after the synagogue building project commenced. Rabbi Philip Lazowski took over the leadership duties of the synagogue and. in 1957, High Holy Days services were held in the new building.