Recently, I received a newly released book, “The Jewish History of Tannersville, New York,” and found it to be a great read, loads of local history. The author, Gary Lelonek M.D., touched on facts I haven’t come across before. (Because of space constraints much of Dr. Lelonek’s information has been abbreviated).
He dedicated one chapter to the Tannersville Synagogue, explaining where it initially stood, where the funding came from, and other information on the moving of the synagogue to South Main Street. He was unable to find documents explaining the naming of the temple, Anshei HaShoran.
The date of incorporation of the Congregation Anshei HaShoran was October 9, 1899. Because the majority of Jewish residents lived closer to Hunter, land on the western edge of Tannersville at 6343 Main Street was purchased for $300. (The Waverly Hotel had been on the north side [Tops Grocery property] and the synagogue on the south, on the property later purchased by Oscar Wiltse).
During the summer of 1900, the Jewish community worked feverishly to obtain the funding required to build the synagogue. On June 8, 1900, the Otsego Farmer reported, “a Hebrew synagogue at Tannersville, will soon be built.” It said the building fund was growing, and the synagogue will commence soon. The Windham Journal published a list of donations received from the proprietors and patrons of the following hotels.
In Tannersville: Campbell House $110.00 (equal today to about $3,400. Mansion House $100 (equal today to about $3,000). Waverly House $71.50, Fairmount $55, Gilbert House $32.50. Elka View $29 (equal to $400 today). Eight other hotels gave more moderate amounts.
“The Blythwood and Pleasant View Houses of Tannersville, and the Grand View, West End, Hunter House, and St. Charles of Hunter, are arranging entertainments and subscriptions and proceeds will appear in our next issue.”
Construction began September 20, 1900, for the contract price of $3,000. Soon after, the property was mortgaged to Jack Fromer for $600. (just under $18,500 today).
The Jewish immigrants left their homes in Russia and arrived in the United States in 1865. They soon became painfully aware of the anti-Semitism in America.
By the year 1907, the Tannersville population was approximately 100. Many folks today will remember the Honigsbaum’s, Golding’s, Cotton’s, Krakauer’s, Rheingold’s, Sophie & Yonkel Simon, Jack & Millie Rubinger, Dr. Ben & Hattie Goldstein, Sy Horwitz, Dr. Lekowitzs, the Orlinksy (Olin’s), and the Warm family. The Jewish community ran most of the businesses in both Tannersville and Hunter, as well as giving us doctors, and dentists.
It was in 1918 that Jimmy and Kevin Wiltse’s grandfather (Historian Leah Showers Wiltse’s husband, James Wiltse) moved the synagogue with horses, tree logs, and brute force to its present site on South Main Street. To accomplish this feat, Mr. Wiltse and his workers had to remove the three cupolas. By September of 1918, J. Constable was completing the work at its new location.
Again, many residents may remember the synagogue’s most massive cupola placed at the crest of Hill Street (23C) and used for a look-out during World War II.
Thank you to Dr. Lelonek for allowing me to share this information. His book is an asset to both the Town of Hunter and the Mountaintop Historical Society.
Dr. Leonek will join the MTHS for a book signing and presentation on Aug.2, 2020, at the Ulster & Delaware RR Station in Haines Falls. Hopefully, this event will remain scheduled, depending on the situation with the Coronavirus.
Until next week, take care, be thankful, and be kind. You never know how your act of kindness may change someone’s life.
Any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or 518-589-4130. Thanks for reading and be safe in these troubling times.