Beth Jacob Synagogue Hunter Street Shul

Tags: Durand, Jewish, Place of Worship, Stucco, Synagogue, The Jewish Voice of Hamilton

Address: 75 Hunter Street West  

The Beth Jacob story begins in 1883, when a group of 20 Russian-born immigrants broke away from Temple Anshe Sholom to form a more Orthodox minyan. At first, services were held above Fearman's Meat Market on MacNab Street. In 1887, the group received its charter as a religious society, officially becoming known as Kahal Kodesh Bais Jacob (Holy Congregation House of Jacob).

In 1888, the growing congregation moved into its first real home: a Gothic-windowed white stucco edifice that had previously housed the St. James Reformed Episcopal Church. The Hunter Street Shul's design, similar to other Orthodox synagogues of the same period, had its bimah located in the centre of a prayer space, surrounded by wooden pews. It had a women's gallery, vestry rooms and a basement that housed a communal kitchen, a meeting place and a mikvah. Religious services were led by lay people and a hired cantor, whose role as Torah reader and Bar Mitzvah tutor was seen as much more essential than that of rabbi. In fact, it wasn't until 1925 that a full-time rabbi was hired.

The Hunter Street Shul evolved over the decades that served as a home away from home for a hard-working immigrant community. Today many of the shuls original features have been preserved and are housed at the Rosenshein Museum: the pews, the Aron HaKodesh, the Ark curtain, and the recently rediscovered stained-glass window that occupied a central place in the old shul.

The Rosenshein Museum is located within Beth Jacob now located at 375 Aberdeen Ave.


Historic Exterior Images:


Beth Jacob Synagogue Hunter Street Shul