Once the heart of the Jewish immigrant community and now standing in the middle of Chinatown, this superbly restored 19th century synagogue is a must-see on any itinerary. Escaping from the unfortunate stench and noise emanating from the food stores outside, visitors enter a tranquil space of wooden paneling, vibrant stained glass and polished brass chandeliers. The pride taken in its restoration is obvious and an outstanding result has been achieved. The building retains much of its contemporary splendor whilst a feeling of comfortable intimacy still pervades its interior. The detail is also fascinating: the ornate facade with its Gothic and Moorish references and the original pews bought from stock and featuring Christian iconography because that was all that was available in the 1880s.
Although now functioning only as a museum, this was our favourite religious building in NY (we are non-Jews). It is free on Mondays and $6 on other days. Open 10-5pm Thursdays to Sundays and 10-3pm on Fridays. Closed Saturdays and Jewish Holidays.
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