Stanton Street Synagogue, also known as Stanton Street Shul and Congregation Bnai Jacob Anshei Brzezan (Yiddish: קאנגרעגיישאן בני יעקב אנשי ברזעזאן, "Congregation Sons of Jacob, People of Brzezan"), is a historic synagogue located at 180 Stanton Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York. It was constructed in 1913 by a landsmanschaft from the town of Brzezan in southeast Galicia (now in Ukraine). One of the few surviving tenement-style synagogues, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
That same year, the synagogue’s congregants went to court over an attempt by its rabbi and board members to sell the aging structure to an organization run by a Jesuit priest. The resultant settlement and media attention led to a resurgence in interest in the synagogue. In 2012 its membership stands at about 100 congregants, representing a wide, intergenerational mix. Founded as an Orthodox house of worship, the Stanton Street Synagogue has been headed by rabbis promoting the stream of Open Orthodoxy since 2006.
In keeping with its Open Orthodox approach, the synagogue schedules frequent musical performances and events. These include "traditional Jewish music...Jewish rock 'n' roll, klezmer and avant-garde jazz" performances.The synagogue has also hosted art exhibitions. For Shavuot 2004, it commissioned artist David Friedman to produce "Borsch and Coffee: Floral Abstractions", an exhibition of 16 paintings in the downstairs Kiddush hall. Friedman incorporated "pigment, acrylic, ink, spray paint, marker, gold powder and, yes, borsch juice and coffee grounds" into his art, the latter as a tribute to one of the nonagenarian congregants who sets up the coffee and Kiddush on Shabbat mornings.
Since 2004, the synagogue has been at the center of an annual sidewalk chalking event memorializing the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911. Artists and synagogue board members inscribe the victims' names in chalk in front of the victims' former homes.
In Popular Culture:
In the 1970s,The Village Voice reporter Paul Cowan came across the synagogue and included it in his book, The Tribes of America (Doubleday, 1979).Cowan went on to write a best-selling book about the synagogue and its rabbi, Rabbi Joseph Singer, titled An Orphan in History: One man's triumphant search for his Jewish roots (Doubleday, 1982).