Original Tifereth Israel

The Original Tifereth Israel Synagogue

From downtown New Bedford, take Union Street north to Sixth Street; turn left and drive several blocks to Madison Street. The original Tifereth Israel Synagogue building is the Byzantine style building on the corner.

The Original Tifereth Israel building

The original Tifereth Israel building sits at 42 South Sixth Street, on the corner of Madison Street It currently serves as home to the Iglesia de Dios, Church of God, with a congregation that is largely Spanish-speaking.

By 1920 the Jewish population in New Bedford had outgrown the original South End temple, Ahavath Achim, and there was talk of building a new and larger synagogue that the community could be proud of. Abram Herman, Samuel Genensky and Samuel Horvitz spearheaded the planning campaign. In 1921 18 members of Ahavath Achim met at the YMHA and among them subscribed $1,800 for the effort.The charter and articles of incorporation were created, and planning began.

The building around 1924, when construction was nearly complete 
The building around 1924, when construction was nearly complete

The name “Tiferes Israel,” or “Beauty of Israel,” was settled on, which reflected the pronunciation used by the Askenazi community at the time (the congregation now uses “Tifereth” Israel, which reflects the Sephardic pronunciation).Later in 1921, a plot of land was purchased for $65,000. Many other synagogues were looked at in choosing a design, but the model decided upon was Temple Israel on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.New Bedford architect Nathaniel C. Smith (1866-1943) was hired to design the building; he eventually settled on the Byzantine style, ultimately modeled after the sixth century eastern Christian Church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, now a mosque. Other notable buildings by Smith include the 1213 Purchase Street (once the New Bedford Textile School, and 19 Hawthorn Street, once the Crapo Gallery of the Swain School of Design. Tifereth Israel was dedicated on Sunday, September 14, 1924. The dome and ark were the gift of Isaac Abramson and the large chandelier inside, the gift of the Sisterhood.

Rabbi Papkin presided, but the first rabbi was officially a young Nachman Arnoff. Rabbi Alexander Burnstein was second rabbi, and then Rabbi Bernard Ziskind, who took over in 1930 and served the congregation for over 40 years. After the congregation of Tifereth Israel relocated to the West End in 1966, this building was sold in 1970 to the Iglesia de Dios.

Tiferes Israel Synagogue 

Scenes from the 1924 dedication ceremony of Tiferes Israel Synagogue
Scenes from the 1924 dedication ceremony of Tiferes Israel Synagogue at 42 South Sixth Street 

Moving the Torah Scrolls from Tiferes Israel 
Moving the Torah Scrolls from Tiferes Israel on 6th and Madison to Brownell Street, 1966 

Original bimah inside Tifereth Israel
Original bimah inside Tifereth Israel

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