Our History


Congregation Shaaray Tefila is founded as an Orthodox synagogue with a temporary location on the 2nd floor of a building on Franklin Street. Samuel Isaacs, one of the only two English-speaking Rabbis in the United States and a firm adherent of Orthodox Judaism, serves as the first Rabbi of the congregation until 1877.


A building is purchased on Wooster Street as the community's first permanent spritual home.


The changing neighborhood and uptown migration of New York City’s Jewish population necessitates a move from the Wooster Street location, finding temporary residence on West 36th Street in an old armory building as their new West 44th Street building is completed.


The congregation moves to their newly erected synagogue on West 44th Street.


Rabbi Dr. Frederick de Sola Mendes begins his tenure as spiritual leader, serving through 1920.


The congregation votes to shorten and simplify the worship service and to include more English. Shortly thereafter, women and men are permitted to sit together, and organ music and a mixed choir are introduced.


The continued uptown migration of the NYC Jewish population pushes the community farther north to a new location at 82nd Street and West End Avenue. The synagogue is dedicated in 1894. The community comes to be known by its location - commonly referred to as West End Synagogue rather than Shaaray Tefila.


Rabbi Dr. Nathan Stern begins his tenure as spiritual leader, serving through his retirement in 1943.


Congregation Shaaray Tefila formally joins the American Reform movement – the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (or UAHC, now the URJ).


Rabbi Dr. Bernard J. Bamberger begins his tenure as spiritual leader, serving through his retirement in 1971.


The community moves to its current location, a converted movie theater in the Upper East Side of Manhattan at 79th Street and 2nd Avenue.


Harvey Tattelbaum begins his tenure as Senior Rabbi, serving through 2001.


Temple Shaaray Tefila Nursery School is established.


The corner of East 79th Street and 2nd Avenue is designated as Temple Shaaray Tefila Place to celebrate the congregation's 150th anniversary.


Jonathan Stein is named Senior Rabbi, serving the congregation through 2014.


Deborah Hirsch is appointed as the Interim Senior Rabbi, serving for two years.


Joel Mosbacher is named Senior Rabbi.