Tiferes Israel Synagogue – Moncton

Tiferes Israel Synagogue - Moncton

Tiferes Israel Synagogue – Moncton

The Tiferes Israel Synagogue, an early 20th-century Gothic Revival-inspired brick building, stands on the west side of Steadman Street in Moncton, directly across from Rabbi Lippa Medjuck Street. It is recognized as a Local Historic Place for its architectural style and importance to Moncton’s Jewish community.

Tiferes Israel Synagogue - Moncton

Moncton has the youngest Jewish history among the three largest Jewish communities in New Brunswick, with Jake Baig being the first Jewish settler in 1898. The arrival of 22 families from Dorbyan, Lithuania, established the Jewish community in Moncton. The Dorbyanners, as they were known, formed a tight-knit community and settled on the same street in the city.

By 1910, the Jewish community had grown enough to hire its first rabbi, Jacob Hans. In 1914, the congregation began collecting 10 cents per member per week, and by 1924, they had enough money to purchase land. Jake Marks and Sam Borenstein bought the current lot on Steadman Street at an auction for $650. Despite attempts by non-Jewish residents to prevent the building of a synagogue, the cornerstone was laid in 1926, and the building was completed the following year. The Jewish community acquired a cemetery in 1930, before which Moncton Jews were buried in Saint John.

The sense of unity among Moncton’s Jews was evident during and after World War II, as they welcomed thousands of Jewish airmen stationed in their city. They opened a serviceman’s center, and more than twenty-three thousand men and women used these facilities. Home hospitality was also provided during Passover, Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur. Post-war, when trains carrying Jewish immigrants passed through Moncton, members of the Jewish community would meet the trains, even in the middle of the night, to attend to any immediate needs.

The Jews of Moncton have been active in many aspects of the host society, from law and medicine to academia and politics, with Michael M. Baig serving two terms as Moncton’s mayor. The synagogue’s location is significant, as many Jewish families such as Attis, Hans, Mark, Schelew, Selick, Gorber, and Coleman lived nearby due to restrictions on driving during Shabbat (Sabbath). As the first and only synagogue in Moncton, its importance to the Jewish community runs deep. Although Jake Baig arrived in 1898, the construction of the synagogue by Ambrose Wheeler wasn’t realized until 1926-1927, thanks to the growing number of Jewish families and financial support, as well as the efforts of Isaac Selick.

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