City of Syracuse

Submitted by Kathy Crowell

Source:  Dwight H. Bruce (ed.), Onondaga's Centennial.  Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. I, pp. 537-538.

In the year 1841 the wholesale notion store of Bernheim & Block, on the site of the Bastable block, was a popular meeting place for Jewish citizens and there was made the first proposition for founding a house or worship in their faith in the village.  On September 26, 1841, in New York city, twelve men met at the house of H. Weiksheimer and decided to remove to Syracuse, which they did.  They were the founders of the Society of Concord.  The first meeting was held on November 21, 1841, at the house of Jacob Garson, on Mulberry street, and the following trustees chosen:  Max Thalheimer, president; Joseph Schloss, treasurer; H. Rosenbach, S. Manheimer, E. Rothschild, secretary; all of these are deceased.  The Rev. A. Gunzenhauser was engaged as minister and reader, and was succeeded in August, 1846, by Rev. Joseph Goodman.  Services were held in dwellings and in the Townsend block, until 1850, when the synagogue on the corner of Mulberry and Madison streets was purchased; the building had previously been a dwelling and was transformed for church purposes and dedicated by Rev. Dr. Isaac Wise, of Cincinnati.  At that time I. H. Bronner was president of the congregation and a few years later was succeeded by Aaron Henocksberg.  When the building became too small for the growing congregation measures were adopted which resulted in locating the synagogue now in use on the corner of Mulberry and Harrison streets; it was finished in 1850.  The Rev. Joseph Goodman having resigned, Rev. Jacob Levi was chosen in his place.  During his administration two factions, one called the Reform and the other the Orthodox party, sprang up in the congregation.  The Reform party was headed by Joseph Falker, who was elected president of the society in March, 1861.  During Mr. Falker's administration, organ playing, choir singing, and family pews were introduced, the custom of men worshipping with covered heads was abolished and other alterations made.  These reforms meant the essential reconciling of the old spirit of Judaism with the newer light and the later requirements of this age.  The majority of the congregation felt that they wanted a broad, enlightened Judaism, a Judaism appealing to the heart as well as to reason, and congenial to American soil.  These innovations stirred up violent opposition, and the minority, finding they could not reconcile their consciences to the acts of the majority, finally seceded in a body and established themselves in an Orthodox society, which is still in existence.  After the division Rev. Dr. Deutsch, a cultured divine, was placed in charge of the spiritual interests of the congregation.  On Mr. Falker's retirement from the presidency he was succeeded by others equally advanced in their ideas, such as Simon and Isaac Lowenthal, L. Leiter, David Hamburger, Moritz Marx, and William Henocksburg.  Since 1882 Rev. Dr. A. Guttman has had charge of the congregation, and a new and vigorous spirit was infused into the society.  The Society of Concord has been very active in philanthropic work through mission schools and various societies and associations.

Submitted 18 July 1998