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Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York), records

 Collection
Identifier: I-509

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York) represent the synagogue's administrative, religious, educational and social activities throughout the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century (1924-2006).

The records contain the Bulletin of the Jewish Center from the 1940s to the 1970s, yearbooks and gift books bound with yearbooks of the Center inside them. Also included are material regarding Doctor Rabbi Akiba Predmesky (d. 1998), who served the Jewish community and the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge for over fifty years.

Types of material found in the collection include blueprints, brochures, bulletins, calendars, correspondence, drafts, gift books, invitations, journals, news clippings, notes, photographs, plaques, posters, publications, sheet music, telegrams, and yearbooks.

The collection is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. The collection is arranged into five series.

Dates

  • undated, 1921-2002

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

email: reference@ajhs.org

Historical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Group portrait of members of the Williamsbridge Jewish Center" show="embed" title="Group portrait of members of the Williamsbridge Jewish Center, 1978" href="http://digital.cjh.org/webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=3640153"/>

Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York)

Williamsbridge is a neighborhood in the north central Bronx, centered on Gun Hill Road and bounded to the north by East 233rd Street, to the east by Edenwald, to the south by the neighborhood of Pelham Parkway, and to the west by the Bronx River.1 The opening of subway lines in the 1930s and 1940s gave momentum to large scale public and private housing developments in new areas. As a result of this affordable housing, large numbers of Jews moved to Pelham Bay Park, Edenwald, Wakefield, Gun Hill Road, Williamsbridge, Olinville, Eastchester, Unionport, Throggs Neck and Woodland.2

The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge was founded in 1924 by Harry Brettholtz. Brettholtz, a devout Jew, realized the need for a place of spiritual growth for the Jewish community. He called together a meeting of ten men at his home and explained the need for a house of worship and a Talmud Torah for the children. They discussed the building of a Jewish Center, where their children could be brought up in a Jewish atmosphere and the adults can enjoy a pleasant social life.3

To begin, Brettholtz had his electricity connected to an unsold house adjoining his and synagogue services were temporarily held there. The official organization to be called the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge was soon launched and Mr. Brettholtz became its first President. The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge officially started in July of 1924 on 2910 Barnes Avenue, located opposite of the Botanic Gardens of Bronx Park in Williamsbridge.4

Julius Pezenik donated two lots and a temporary wooden building was erected under the leadership of Brettholtz. Other neighbors joined the Center and the women of the community organized a Ladies Auxiliary that worked diligently to assist with the social activities of the Center. The auxiliary later became the Sisterhood.5

From a small Congregation, Talmud Torah and Center, the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge grew to serve hundreds of Jewish families living in the neighborhood. The Center provided religious education for their children and spiritual guidance for their families. At the time, the Center became one of the largest synagogues in the United States.

The Center participated in the war effort in World War II, by taking part in the Red Cross, War Bond Drives, Civilian Defense Volunteer Office and any other war activity. The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge assisted the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and Bonds for Israel, and cooperated in philanthropic and Yeshivah campaigns.6 The Modern Orthodox synagogue flourished until the 1960s, when its members began to age or move to other neighborhoods.7

Rabbi Akiba Predmesky served the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge and the neighboring community for over fifty years.8 Upon his death in 1998, the Center's trustees decided to deconsecrate the building and sell it.9 The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge closed in 2006.10

Footnotes

1 Jackson, Kenneth T. The Encyclopedia of New York City. (AJHS Call #: REF F128.3.E75 1995)

2 Israelowitz, Oscar. Synagogues of New York City: History of a Jewish Community. Israelowitz Publishing, 2000: (AJHS Call #: REF BM225.N49 I85 2000)

3 30th Anniversary Banquet Souvenir Programme 1924-1954 (I-509 collection, Box 5, Folder 1)

4 ibid

5 ibid

6 The Rabbi's Message from the 35th Anniversary Journal (I-509, Box 5, Folder 2)

7 American Jewish Historical Society Living History, vol. 2, issue 2, Summer 2006 (http://www.ajhs.org/images/LivingHistory.pdf).

8 http://old.yuhsb.org/currentyr/admission/newsltr/2008-2009/5-28%20newsletter.pdf

9 American Jewish Historical Society Living History, vol. 2, issue 2, Summer 2006 (http://www.ajhs.org/images/LivingHistory.pdf).

10 ibid

Extent

6.2 Linear Feet (9 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box, 2 oversized folders)

Abstract

Contains the Bulletin of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge from the 1940s to the 1970s and gift books bound with yearbooks of the Center bound inside. Also includes material regarding Doctor Rabbi Akiba Predmesky (d. 1998), who served the Jewish community and the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge for over fifty years.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

Jewish Center of Williamsbridge, 2006.

Separated Material

Nine objects donated from the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge were separated and moved into the Museum Collection: Three banners, two rabbinical robes and three hats, one tallit bag and one shofar, collection 2006.016.001-09.

Title
Guide to the Records of Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York), undated, 1921-2002   I-509
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Adina Anflick and Marvin Rusinek
Date
© 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States