Monsey Memories: Sons of Jacob, “The First Synagogue in Rockland”
By: Yitzy Fried
Congregation Sons of Jacob recently closed its location at 37 Clove Ave in Haverstraw after serving the area for nearly a century-and-a-half. In this time, it had a storied history—more of which we will cover in the future—in this town that was known for brick manufacturing and a major earthquake which took the life of its first rov, Rabbi Elimelech Adlin, z”l.
Following is an article from 1963, which gives insight into some of the history of the Shul:
“Congregation Sons of Jacob Dates Back to 1890’s. The synagogue at Haverstraw is unique in the fact that it can trace its history to the turn of the century. It was at Haverstraw that the earliest known Jewish settlement in the county was located. The synagogue for the congregation Sons of Jacob was dedicated on September 3, 1899.
Although there were ten Jewish families believed to be residents of Haverstraw during the Civil War, it wasn’t until the sizable migration influx of Jewish people in the 1890’s that the Jewish was organized. Close cordiality and sincere friendship seemed to characterize the relationship between Christian and Jewish communities. The synagogues, which today stands on Clove Avenue, was built with financial aid of Michael McCabe, who advanced the sum of $2,000 for its construction.
“The landslide of 1906, which destroyed a considerable part of the main business section, was fatal to seven members of the Jewish community. It also was a heavy blow to Haverstraw’s brickyard industry. Many of the business people suffered heavy economic losses through the destruction of business and personal property and the community’s reduced economic foundation.
Many moved away with the result that peddling and storekeeping opportunities in the Jewish communities were reduced. At the time, a number of the Jewish families along with their Christian neighbors, left the village.
Today’s Jewish community, which is growing constantly, finds the synagogue an integral part of their lives.
“Although the exterior of the synagogue is identifiable with the structures of the late 1800’s, the interior has been beautifully modernized this year, effecting a feeling of traditional warmth within a modern décor.”
Sadly, only a few years later, the shul suffered a devastating blaze, and it had to be erected anew—which it was. That second structure stands until this day, even though the shul has been shuttered, following a rich 120-year legacy.