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.
Congregation Chevry Lomday Mishnayes was founded in 1918 by a group of Eastern European and Russian immigrants under the name of "Chevre Mishnayos of Hartford" (roughly translated as Fellowship of the Mishnah). For the first seven years the congregation had no permanent home. In 1925, the congregants built their first shul at 150 Bedford Street. In 1934, the synagogue re-incorporated under the name "Congregation Chevry Lomday Mishnayes" (roughly translated as Fellow Students of the Mishnah). In response to the mass movement of the Jewish population to the northwest part of Hartford and to West Hartford, Chevry Lomday Mishnayes purchased the former Young Israel shul at 191 Westbourne Parkway in 1964. By 1983, attendance declined and the congregation merged with Teferes Israel.
The Chevry Lomday Mishnayes synagogue building is a good example of how synagogue architecture adjusts to the realities of circumstances, a demonstration of the tradition that prayer conducted in the building is what is important, rather than the building itself. Presumably, it was relatively inexpensive and straightforward for the congregation to erect the standard "Yellow Brick" shell that it did, for apartment houses of this character were going up by the dozens in Hartford in the 1920s. Harry H. Beckanstein is one of several architects who designed them, as did Berenson & Moses. But the absence of an architect's name on the building permit for this structure indicates that possibly a standard building was constructed without the services of an architect.