Memory Lane: Adas Israel Anshei Sfard
Adas Israel was established in lower Manhattan, at 291 Broadway, in the late 1800’s. Newspaper accounts of the times note that they would be moving their shul and erecting a new Shul in Brooklyn, with a [after-school] Talmud Torah on the upper levels.
Reports the Brooklyn Standard Union in 1928: “Congregation Adas Israel Ansha Sfard, of 291 Broadway, Manhattan, filed plans for a three-story school and synagogue to cost $125,000 and to occupy a site 60 by 100 feet at 4314-18 Tenth Avenue, north of forty-Fourth Street (of course, by the time all was said and done, the project cost more than $200,000).
In August of 1928 (corresponding to the year that is inscribed in the cornerstone that we see there today), it reports of the cornerstone laying in an elaborate ceremony, Sunday, August 26. “Stone Placed for Synagogue. Ceremony Marks Occasion in Borough Park. Autos in Parade. Sealed Tablet Bears Names of Those Who Aided. Amid impressive ceremonies yesterday the cornerstone of the Synagogue Adas Israel Anshei Sfard and Talmud Torah of Borough Park, on Tenth Avenue near 43rd Street was laid. In it was sealed a tablet containing the names of all those people who helped in the erection of the building.
“Ground was broken for the synagogue in July, and it is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The interior will be lighted by stained glass windows, and will contain four classrooms and a principal’s office, and a social hall with a capacity of 500 persons.”
It seems that the Shul changed names to Torath Chaim, then to Toras Moshe, where we find this interesting episode in 1945:
On November 6, 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran a photograph of a sefer Torah being inducted into Toras Moishe, with the following caption: “Honorable Discharge—A holy scroll, rescued from a burning synagogue in Mannheim, Germany in 1938, and given to Camp Upton for the duration is placed in Torath Moishe Jewish Center of Borough Park, 4314 10th Avenue. Capt. Samuel N. Sherman, chaplain, delivers the scroll to Rabbi Joseph Frankel of the center. Looking on is Herman E. Blumenfeld, past commander of the Emanunel Goldmunz Post No. 173, Jewish War Veterans, which had the scroll repaired.”
It turns out that Emanuel Goldmunz was a World War I veteran who lost his life in that war, and many Boro Park veterans were part of that Post.
Another article announces that the Torah scroll will be returned to Mannheim, Germany, as a symbol of the return of religious freedom to that country….”commander Samuel Levy of the Goldmunz Post told the 1,000 persons gathered at the temple how the Torah was rescued from the burning building by a Jewish man named Schauer whose mother, father, and sister were killed in the attempt (!).
“Until the completion of the new Synagogue which is being built by Nazi labor under the supervision of the U. S. Army in Mannheim, the Torah will remain at Torath Moishe.
It goes on to detail how in January or February of that year the Torah will be flown back to Germany by members of the State Department and the Jewish War Veterans group. Memorial services for members of the Boro Park Post who lost their lives in WWII.
The story of that sefer Torah, snatched from the flames, is much like the story of those walking skeletons who emerged from the inferno… snatched from those flames—and like the Torah which is eternal, many of those Yidden came to Boro Park and rebuilt a Torah life.
That sefer Torah for which three Yidden gave their lives to protect was eventually flown back—and its presence in Boro Park of yore… welcomed, appreciated, was but one chapter in the rich history of 4314-18 10th Avenue.
For close to four decades, this very building has served as the home for Beis Brocho of Karlin Stolin, shaping thousands of students in an uninterrupted century of Torah on Tenth Avenue.