December 19, 2018 •
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Our History

In 1853, a small group of Jewish émigrés from Poland decided to form their own congregation that followed Eastern European ritual rather than the German liberal approach of Newark’s Temple B’nai Jeshurun. This budding congregation met in the home of Abraham Newman, a founder and a member of B’nai Jeshurun, until a hall could be rented at 107 Market Street, Newark. By 1855 they acquired land for a cemetery and were incorporated under New Jersey law as “Congregation of the Sons of Abraham—B’nai Abraham,” in honor of benefactor Abraham Newman and in recognition of Biblical tradition’s first Jew.

In 1861, the congregation purchased a former Baptist Church at the corner of Halsey and Academy Streets. In 1870, the Temple members built a synagogue on Bank Street, only to lose it in a mortgage foreclosure. Moving into rented space on Market Street until 1884, the congregation then leased larger quarters in a two- story Washington Street building, only 25 feet wide and 75 feet deep. The cornerstone of a new synagogue, with a seating capacity of 900 at High Street and 13th Avenue, was set in 1897. In 1924, the congregants dug deep into their pockets to raise the huge sum of $I,250,000 to build their last Newark home, the magnificent edifice at Clinton and Shanley Avenues.

Rabbi Julius Silberfeld became the rabbi of Temple B’nai Abraham in 1902. Retaining the Orthodox ritual, which had been followed from 1853, he edited a new prayer book, adding English translations. In 1939, Rabbi Silberfeld retired and was succeeded by Dr. Joachim Prinz, who modernized the ritual and introduced his own prayer book.

In 1973, the congregation moved into its newly-built home in Livingston. Dr. Prinz retired in 1976, and Rabbi Barry Friedman, who came to the Temple in 1968 as Associate Rabbi, became Senior Rabbi in 1977. Rabbi Friedman introduced further innovations in the services and wrote and edited the prayer book Siddur Or Chadash. He retired in 1999, having served the congregation as rabbi for thirty-one years. In 1999, Rabbi Clifford M. Kulwin, who is retiring  after 20 years, became the synagogue’s fourth religious leader in 98 years.

For much of the 20th Century, Temple B’nai Abraham identified itself as a traditional progressive congregation, independent of the organized synagogue movements. Now one of the largest Jewish congregational families in New Jerseyand growing, it carries that description into a new century with respect for tradition, relevance to time and place, creativity, musicality and a commitment to providing a focal point for living and learning Jewishly.

Past Spiritual Leaders

*Rabbi Barry R. Friedman
*Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Ph.D.
*Rabbi Julius Silberfeld
*Rabbi M.G. Solomon
*Rev. Max Grauman
*Rabbi Jacob Goldstein
*Rev. Joseph Segel
*Rev. Adolph Bernstein
*Rev. A. Loeb
*Rev. P. Callen
*Rev. Moritz H. Neuhut
*Rabbi Isador Kalisch
*Rev. Isaac Stempel
*Rev. Moses Blumenthal
*Rev. Isaac Schwarz
*Rev. William Schreier
*Rev. Edward Rubin

Past Presidents

Julie A. Silbermann 2013-2017
Edward Meinhardt  2009- 2013
BJ Reisberg 2005-2009
Jeffrey D. Roth 2003-2005
Sandra L. Greenberg 1999-2003
Merle H. Kalishman 1995-99
Ira M. Starr 1991-1995
Marilyn Rosenbaum 1987-1991
*Joel J. Rogoff 1983-1987
Peter M. Klein 1981-1983
Martin M. Kalishman 1977-1981
*I. Samuel Sodowick  1973-1977
*Abram Barkan  1971-1973
*Dr. Sol Parent 1969-1971
*A.Sam Gittlin 1965-1969
*Leo Brody 1963-1965
*Norman Feldman 1959-1963
*Leo Brody 1954-1959
*Louis Rosen 1953-1954
*Samuel Klein 1949-1953
*Michael Stavitsky 1939-1949
*Albert Hollander  1926-1939
*Phillip J. Schlotland 1913-1926
*William S. Rich1896-1912
*Moritz Beria 1871-1896
*Lesser Marks 1855-1870


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