North End merchant Amos Mechaber out for a ride
North End merchant Amos Mechaber out for a ride

New Bedford has benefited from a vibrant Jewish community with roots back in the mid 18th century when the city was a lively whaling port. Although the urban landscape has changed over the years, many sites important to the history of the Jewish community exist in the city today.This publication will help to provide directions to visit some of the places which would have been familiar to the Jews who lived in the city.

According to a study compiled in 1924 by Samuel Barnet, a prominent local judge and active member of the Jewish community, life for the Jews in New Bedford can be divided into three distinct chapters. The first dates back to the whaling era in the mid-18th century with a small number of Portuguese and Spanish Jewish immigrants; the second wave were Jewish immigrants from Germany, and the third and largest wave came from Eastern Europe in the late 19th century.The latter are the ancestors of many in the Jewish community today.

The tour is organized roughly chronologically. Although all sites can be visited independently, we suggest, if you choose to drive this tour, to begin in downtown New Bedford, at the National Park Service Visitor’s Center on William Street (508-996-4095). After visiting an early site in the North End as a second stop, you will return to the downtown and South End for sites important to the Eastern European immigrants.Finally, the tour moves to the West End, where the center of the community eventually moved.

A Map of New Bedford

1. National Park Service Visitor’s Center
2. Rodman Candleworks
3. Waterfront Visitor’s Center
4. Location of Water Street businesses
5. Location of Whaling Outfitters
6. Original Howland Street location of Ahavath Achim
7. To Mt. Pleasant Street to Peckham West Cemetery
8. Original Kenyon Street location of Chesed Shel Emes
9. Location of State Theatre, now the Zeiterion
10. Original Tifereth Israel, Sixth and Madison Streets
11. Ahavath Achim and Segall Square
12. Jewish Community Center
13. To Kaplan Square
14. Temple Sinai (now Gallery X)
15. To Jewish Convalescent Home, Buttonwood Park memorials,
and Tifereth Israel.

(Directions are indicated in each section in italics.)

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