Writer Says Value of Jewish Religious Edifices has More than Doubled Since 1919
That American Jews have spent $67,462,640 for erection of synagogues and temples since January 1925 is asserted in “The Reflex,” in an article by Uriah Z. Engelman.
This sum, according to the article, is more than twice the total value of all the Jewish religious edifices in the United States in 1919 when the last religious census was taken. In 1919 the total value of the 874 Jewish religious edifices recorded by the census amounted to $31,012,576. The sum of $67,462,640 does not account for all synagogues and temples erected as information from 15 states was not available.
What is the reason for this enormous outlay in view of the known decline of religious enthusiasm among the American Jews? asks “The Reflex” writer. “The answer,” he says, “is in the changed function of the synagogue and temple. The latter is no longer the old-fashioned place of worship. It has become the rich man’s club. The synagogue has ceased to be a place to commune with the Maker. Like the exclusive club its purpose it to provide the proper background on which to set off the changing economic status of the American Jew.”
The records to which Mr. Engelman has had access show that 274 such edifice have been erected since 1924. Distributing the new buildings according to states and cities, he writes, “we find New York State heading the list with 77 new houses of worship. Pennsylvania follows with 30; New Jersey with 23; Illinois records 19; Massachusetts 17; Ohio 12; Maryland and Florida each 10; California 9; Connecticut and Virginia each 8; Texas 6; the other states four, three or less.
“Of the cities, New York carries off the honors with 25 new synagogues and temples, Brooklyn, including Long Island, follows next with 22 new houses for religious services. Philadelphia comes third with 10, and Baltimore fourth with five. The fifth place is claimed by New Orleans with four temples. The sixth place is shared by a group of cities, none of which had built during this period more than 3 temples or synagogues. In this group, are included Cleveland, O., Stamford, Conn., Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cal., Passaic, N. J., Utica, N. Y., Boston, Mass., Miami and Jacksonville, Fla. The rest of the cities claim only one or two new temples to their record.”
Of the $40,180,000 recorded spent on 162 new temples during the last two years and eight months, New York State contributed $16,915,000, or 42.1 per cent, of the total amount spent by American Jewry. New York City alone spent $11,525,000 or 68.1 per cent, of the state’s expenditure; Brooklyn, $2,810,000 or 16.6 per cent; Long Island, $1,160,000 or 6.9 per cent; while the other 11 cities in New York State which reported new religious edifices, have spent only $1,420,000 or 8.4 per cent of the amount spent by the state.
Next in importance comes the state of Pennsylvania with an expenditure of $4,470,000 or 11.1 per cent, of the national total. Of the amount spent by the state, Philadelphia contributed $2,875,000 or 64.3 per cent. Illinois follows a close third with an expenditure of $4,335,000 or 10,78 per cent, of the national total. Almost the entire amount was spent by Chicago Jews, only $250,000 or less than six per cent, were spent outside of Chicago.
California’s investment of $3,085,000 (7.7 per cent of the national total) is almost entirely divided between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the former city $1,625,000, and the latter $1,410,000. Among the states whose expenditures are above the million mark, are included Massachusetts with an expenditure of $1,500,00 of which Boston claimed $1,040,000; Ohio with an investment of $1,225,000 of which Cincinnati spent $800,000; New Jersey with an expenditure of $1,015,000 of which Passaic spent $420,000, and Connecticut with an expenditure of $1,005,000 of which New Haven spent $500,000.