Although a synagogue structure is not necessary for Jewish prayer, the building of a synagogue represents the creation of a center for both worship and community. In a synagogue, Jews join together not only to pray, but to study, socialize, educate their children, and to care for the needs of their own members as well as the larger community. There were once thirteen synagogues in Hartford, CT. There are no longer any active congregations remaining in the city, although a number of the buildings are still in existence. Some are abandoned and have fallen into disrepair, and others have been repurposed, often as churches. This web exhibit utilizes the archive of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford to offer images and information on the synagogues that once existed in Hartford.
Ados Israel was organized in Hartford by Orthodox Eastern European Jews in 1884 as the "Association of Brothers, Children of Israel". The first listing of Association Ados Israel appears in the 1885 City Directory and indicates that the congregation worshiped at 3 Pratt Street until 1898.
One of the congregation's early rabbis, Rabbi Cemach Hoffenberg, whose family came to Hartford from Lithuania in 1900, was highly respected in the community. He served as rabbi of Ados Israel Synagogue for 39 years and was on the boards of many local institutions until his death in 1938. His son, Samuel Hoffenberg, was a prominent Zionist and Jewish community leader for seven decades.
The Market Street building (1898) was an architectural gem (left) and reflected the financial success of its founders. This building was demolished as part of an urban renewal project in 1963. The congregation then relocated to 215 Pearl Street (right) and remained there until 1986, when it closed. An endowment for Jewish education was then established with the synagogue assets. In 1970, while the congregation was in its Pearl Street location, it had a membership of 75 families. At that time, Jacob Baron served as cantor, but the congregation did not have a permanent Rabbi.