The Tiferes Israel Synagogue consists of an early 20th century Gothic Revival inspired brick religious structure located on the west side of Steadman Street in Moncton, directly across from Rabbi Lippa Medjuck Street in Moncton.
The Tiferes Israel Synagogue is designated as a Local Historic Place for its Gothic Revival inspired architecture and for its significance to the Jewish community in Moncton.
Moncton’s Jewish history is the youngest of the three largest New Brunswick Jewish communities. Jake Baig was the first Jewish settler in 1898. The arrival of twenty-two families from Dorbyan, Lithuania established Moncton’s Jewish community. The men arrived first and established themselves, and then sent for their wives and children in Europe (a fairly common practice among Jews and other immigrant settlers in the region). These Dorbyanners, as they were called, formed a very cohesive community and all settled on the same street in Moncton.
By 1910, the Jewish community was large enough to hire its first rabbi, Jacob Hans. With about 15 families in 1914, the congregation began to collect 10 cents from each member each week until there was enough money in 1924 to purchase land. Jake Marks and Sam Borenstein purchased the present lot on Steadman Street at an auction for $650. Some research has recounted that by being in a “choice” residential street, many non-Jews bid on the land to prevent the building of a synagogue in the neighbourhood. Nonetheless, the cornerstone was laid in 1926 and the building was completed by the following year. A cemetary for the Jewish community was purchased in 1930, prior to which Moncton Jews were buried in Saint John.
A sense of solidarity among Jews in Moncton is clearly evidenced in their response during and immediately after World War II. Moncton Jews readily welcomed thousands of Jewish airmen stationed in their city. The community opened a serviceman’s centre and it is estimated that over twenty-three thousand men and women used these facilities. Extensive home hospitality was provided for the holidays of Passover, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. After the war, when trains would pass through Moncton with Jewish immigrants on their way west, members of the Jewish community would meet the trains – often in the middle of the night – attending to any of their immediate needs.
As in many other Jewish communities across the region, the Jews of Moncton have penetrated many of the host society’s institutions. From lawyers to doctors, from judges to university professors, to Michael M. Baig’s two terms as mayor of Moncton, the Moncton Jewish community has contributed greatly to the city as a whole.
The location of the synagogue is also significant. Most of Moncton’s Jewish families such as as Attis, Hans, Mark, Schelew, Selick, Gorber and Coleman resided in close proximity to the Steadman Street area because of restrictions on driving on days of Shabbat (Sabbath). As the first and only synagogue in Moncton, its importance to the Jewish community is deep. Although the first Jewish man, Jake Baig, arrived in Moncton in 1898, it was not until 1926-1927 that the numbers of Jewish families and proper financial support saw the construction of the synagogue by Ambrose Wheeler. The building of the synagogue was due largely to efforts by Isaac Selick.
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