Chazanus and the Bronx

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  • #1793770

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    I recently participated in a retrospective of Jewish life in the Bronx from the 1930s to 1950s, and learned one aspect of the Borough’s history which may be familiar to some CR readers but was news to me. There were some great “chazanim” (who later morphed into secular musical artists) who has their roots in the Bronx. Richard Tucker, who later became a world renown opera singer, was the chazan at Adath Israel (169th Street and the Grand Concourse). He reputedly left the shul during WWII because the Board of Directors wouldn’t give him a $500 raise. Jan Peerce was a tenor in the Louis Reines Choir, which was based in the Hunts Point section and sang at different times in shuls in the Bronx including Kehilath Yisroel on Crotona Park East and K’hal Adath Yeshurin . Other chashuvah chazonim such as Yossele Rosenblatt and Leibele Waldman also were associated, at different times, with shuls in the Bronx and appeared at what today might be called a “Simcha hall”, the Hunts Point Palace on Southern Boulevard. Maybe that’s why its the only borough with a “THE” before the name of the borough.

    #1793828

    anonymous Jew
    Participant

    It’s named after The Bronx River ( as per several historical sources ) which was named after Jonas Bronck, the first European settler in the area. It wasn’t called the Bronx until it was acquired by NYC in the late 1800s

    #1794009

    You ddn’t mention Chazzan Samuel Vigoda.

    #1794010

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Thanks AJ: I recall that when growing up and spending Rosh Hashanah with relatives, we used to go to Tashlich at THE Bronx River across near the Bronx River Parkway and Fordham Road near the Zoo entrance.

    #1794012

    solsam
    Participant

    Was there any mention of a Harav Shlomo (Solomon) Gottlieb?
    What about a Cantor Benjamin (Ben Zion) Gottlieb? He BH Stayed frum

    #1794013

    Benephraim
    Participant

    Of note also is that Reb Schulem Rubin , a Lanzhuter einekel and Talmid muvhok of Chaim Berlin was Rabbi of the Young Israel of Pelham. The chazan was the great Reb Moshe Teleshevsky of Chabad. Another giant from Chaim Berlin was Reb Mendel Gettinger of the Young Israel of Claremont. He was an eidem of Rav Riff the Rov of Camden and from the Beis Harav. Great Roshei Yeshiva include Harav Kushelevitz, Harav Paleyeff, Harav Gorelick, Reb Meilech Schachter and Harav Bick zl among so many others.

    #1794034

    Avi K
    Participant

    Dor, I lived on 168th St off the Concourse. The Adath Israel was Conservative and later became the Conservative Synagogue of Riverdale. BTW, Yossele Rosenblatt refused a $1,000 ($17K in today’s money) per night offer by the Chicago Opera because of kol isha.

    #1794124

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Benepahraim: I davened many times at the YI of Pelham Parkway (when it was on Lydig Avenue) and R’ Rubin was the Rav of the shul (which at the time may have been one of the largest frum shuls in the Bronx). However, I don’t recall their having a FT chazan every Shabbos. I do recall that R’ Rubin was very well connected politically both in NYC and Albany and he was appointed as the first official “Statewide Rav Hamachshir” in the Department of Agiculture with a staff of “Kosher Policemen” after NYS became the first state to enact strict “truth in labeling” laws regarding Kashruth. Less known were his multiple efforts to undertake special missions overseas on behalf of government agencies to assist yidden worldwide.

    #1794127

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Lowertutition: Didn’t Vigoda ultimately take Rosenblatt’s slot at Ohev Tzedek when Rosenblatt left or am I mixing up a different chazan/shul??

    #1794151

    Benephraim
    Participant

    Dear Gadol. Etc. You are a great resource indeed. I failed to mention that Yeshivas Chafetz Chaim was well represented in the Rabbinate . Harav Julius Novack from Hope of Israel was a Talmid Muvhak of Reb Dovid Leibovitch. Torah Vodaas and Lakewood had Rav Isbee in the Young Israel of Astor. Chabad with Rav Stein on Knox Place. Telz had Harav Hershel Shurin in the South Bronx. As I recall there is no shul the whole length of the Concourse as The Young Israel of Mosholu is no more.

    #1794123

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    Benephraim: Although Rabbi Rubin was not a chazzan he did have a beautiful singing voice and would come to the bimah during Neilah to recite and lead the congregants in reciting the Pizmon of Hashem Hashem. Even though it has been 18 years since his petirah his emotion in saying the pizmon still rings in my ears.

    #1794168

    Benephraim
    Participant

    Dear iacs. Do you remember the New Haven Chazzan Reb Shimshon Goffin ZL in Rabbi Rubin’s shul. Also do you remember when he wore sunglasses because he opened the door Friday night?

    #1794173

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    I married into a family from YI of Pelham Parkway. Moshe Teleshevsky A”H was already the chazzan.

    #1794205

    Benephraim
    Participant

    To Gadol. Rabbi Rubin took over the state Kashrus from Shepard Baum. Also he ran for Congress against Mario Biaggi. You are from a Tekufah before me and I appreciate your posting greatly. The problem of a Mikvah in the west Bronx was never really solved. So vus tut men? You seem to be from the East Bronx as some of the other posters.

    #1794256

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Benph: Thanks for the additional details. I never knew R’ Rubin ran for Congress against Biaggi…a name from the past. I think that Congressional seat is now held by AOC. How times have changed. When I was last in the old pelham parkway neighborhood, the old YI building on Lydig avenue had been sold (probably many years earlier during the severe downturn in Jewish life in the Bronx) and the tzibur had merged with the old “Jewish Center” shul with the much nicer building on Pelham Parkway South. I’m told there actually has been a real renaissance in Jewish life in that area over the past several years.
    As far as Mikvahs, somone at the program I attended recalled that there had been at least one functioning Mikvah for an extended period of time at the Mishkenos Yisroel shul on Southern Boulevard but that was in what your refer to as the EAST Bronx and not in the WESt Bronx. (There were also several rebbaim from the Salanter yeshiva over on Webster Avenue involved in that shul)

    #1794279

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @benephraim
    I remember Goffin wel, having been born and raised in New Haven…but he never went by the name Shimshon in his home town.
    My Mother, and older siblings were from the Bronx. I was born after the family moved to New Haven in 1952. The family lived diagonally across from the Schiff Center on Valentine between 192 and Fordham. My siblings were all born at Royal Hospital on the Grand Concourse. Last week I took my some of my grandchildren for a ride thru the Bronx showing them locations where the family members had lived and worked. So sad to see what has happened to the Beautiful Bronx.

    #1794320

    Benephraim
    Participant

    Dear CT etal. A few blocks down on Valentine was Reb Mendel Chodorov’s shul. Congregation Mirkaz Harav. He was a product of the Vishnitz dynasty. A big Talmid Chochom and the Rabbi of Goodmans Matzah. The apartments were beautiful there but later on the city considered Valentine Avenue as one of the most crime ridden . Next post I will identify the last Rabbi of the Schiff Center who was also a postman, if I remember.

    #1794321

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    CT Laywer: “So sad to see what has happened to the Beautiful Bronx…”

    It will probably bring tears to your eyes if you lived across from the Schiff Center which had been the center of the secular Jewish community in the East Bronx for several decades from after WWI to the 1950s. I’m not sure the Mods will allow a link (below) to a photo of the former Schiff Center today but if not, just google “Jacob Schiff Jewish Center and Bronx” and you will see the photo of a once majestic building with a big sign “El Mundo Super Discount” just below still visible carvings of the shnai luchos with the lions on either side. The paint is peeling off the facade but one can readily visualize what once was the center of secular Jewish life in the Bronx (along with at least a dozen big shuls that are now Evangelical Churches).

    P.S. You probably don’t recall an ice cream place (defnitely not cholov yisroel) called Jan’s across from the Paradise Movie Theatre on the Grand Concourse where it was common back then for the MO crowd to go for “dates” on motzi shabbos. I suspect you already had moved on to New Haven by then.

    Jacob Schiff Jewish Center, Fordham

    #1794361

    GH: The building on Lydig and Barnes Avenue (2126 Barnes Avenue) continued as the YIPP until about 10 years ago when it was sold as the costs to maintain the building far exceeded the shules annual revenue.

    #1794438

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    Gadol
    I absolutely remember Jahn’s ice cream parlor, but on Kingsbridge between Fordham and 192. I was born in New Haven, but my parents kept an apartment in Valentine until 1978 to make caring for my grandmother easier. We all took turns spending a night each week there until we finally moved her to Florida and sold the building. My grandfather had his optometry office on the Vincourse and my uncle had a tv store in Kingsbridge. Of course my fist bank account was at Dollar Savings Bank. So long ago

    #1794455

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    CT: Thanks….my memory of the details is fading so that is why I found I’ve been following some groups that are seeking to document the rich history of the Bronx and setting up guided tours periodically for the “new generation” similiar to the tours of Jewish Life on the lower East Tours that have been around for a long time.

    #1794570

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    Sorry for the typos in my last post. Grandfather’s Optometry practice was on the Grand Concourse at the NE corner of Kingsbridge Rd. Right across from Poe Cottage in the Park. They lived diagonally across the park in the Poe Raven Apartments on the sw corner of Valentine and 192. Robert Hall was in the building on the Concourse to the ear of the apartment building. That area of the Bronx was a great place until they opened Co-Op city and the whites left. My grandmother stayed until 1978 when we moved her to Florida. Then the family sold the building, happy to get out.

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