Connellsville Religious

~ B'nai Israel Synagogue ~

Around 1904, when a Orthodox Jewish congregation, "B'nai Israel," was organized. Several years later, the congregation purchased the lot in Snydertown for the purpose of building a synagogue, but before this project was undertaken, the congregation had the opportunity of purchasing a building on N. Pittsburgh Street from the United Presbyterian Church, which they did on 13 May 1910. This was a commendable enterprise on the part of our Orthodox coreligionists and showed their desire for the strengthening of their devotion to their religion.

The first officers were Jacob ROSENBLUM (President), Jacob SAPOLSKY (Vice-president), I. AARON (Treasurer)and Mark MACE (Secretary). Among others, we find the names of I. BOWYTZ, Abe COHEN, L. FEATHERMAN, A. FRANK, Charles KRAVITZ, Max LEVINE, S. M. LEVY, Joseph MERVIS, H. RHODIE, Emanuel HOREWITZ and Louis SINE who were prominent in this era of Connellsville Jewry and were instrumental in helping to establish a synagogue.

By 1922, the Jews of Connellsville had banded together and erected a synagogue (pictured below). The officers of the synagogue at this time were Max LEVINE (President), Harry KROMICK (Vice-president), A. M. GREENBLATT (Secretary) and Max KROMICK (Treasurer).

(Click the image below to view a larger image.)

B'nai Israel Synagogue
Photo: Courtesy Karen HECKLER, USA and

and Jewish Community Center

Apostolic Church
Photo: Copyright ©2015
Marshall J. KATZ, USA

former B'nai Israel Synagogue

~ B'nai Israel Religious Life ~

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As mentioned earlier, around 1859 the first Jews settled in Connellsville and among the first families were the GOLDSMITHS.

On 19 December 1898, a charter was granted to the B'nai Israel Church of New Haven. A. COHEN, Z. MELNICK and Jacob ROSENBLUM were listed as directors and the following men were incorporators: Charles COHEN, A. MARCUS, M. PEROW, Jacob ROSENSWEIG, Louis ZADIKOW, Israel WAYNE, Jacob ROSENBLUM, Morris LEVINSON, Harry MERVIS and Jacob RINSBUR. Recollections reveal that Charles COHEN was the first president.

Early presidents of B'nai Israel were Israel AARON (pictured, The Jewish Criterion - Vol. Vol. 51 No. 13 - 23 May 1919) and Charles COHEN (1955 Dedication Program). Both men were progressive Jews in the city, demonstrated by their readiness, at all times, to cooperate in every movement that was worthwhile.

Some of the early Jewish spiritual leaders were Rev. Edward RUBEN, Rabbi ROSENSON and Rev. S. STRAUSE, succeeded by several rabbis, and the last resident rabbi was Rabbi Kurt METZGER. Mr. LEMONSKY was the Chazan (Cantor) of the synagogue until 1922.

In 1919, there were 75 Jewish families in the city, most of which practiced the Orthodox Jewish faith, but there were about six families that practiced the Reform Jewish faith. The officers of the Orthodox congregation in 1919 were Jacob ROSENBLUM (President), H. MELNICK (Vice-president), Sol ROSENFELD (Secretary) and Max LEVIN (Treasurer).

In 1922, the religious leader was Rabbi SHUTZKY and there were 30 members that practiced the Orthodox Faith of Judaism. Around this time, a religious school for the early development spirit of the youth was formed.

The Hebrew school had 23 students, and S. KREINER was their dedicated teacher. Under his capable instruction, students learned as much as they would have if they attended the Hebrew Institute of Pittsburgh. Jews, as well as our non-Jewish coreligionists, place a high value on education. Most of the early settlers of Connellsville were immigrants and thus, wanted a better life for their children—realizing that education is the key to success and a better life. The Jewish community of Connellsville also established an efficient Sabbath school. This was the same as everywhere —Orthodox or Reform—to teach children the Jewish religion.

Under the religious school committee of the National Council of Jewish Women, Connellsville section, a very efficient Sunday school was established. The following were teachers, Ms. Ida MAGADOVITZ, Mrs. S. ROSENBLUM, Miss. R HERZBERG, S MELNICK and Bessie SHAPIRO. M. LEFKOWITZ was the capable superintendent. They conducted large classes.

In the 1950s, the following men were active in the synagogue and held responsible positions: Samuel BARASCH, Louis BARRON, Gerald C. DAVIDSON, William GOLDSTONE, Julius HARRIS, Gerhart HOREWITZ, Jacob HOREWITZ, Leon KINGLEY, Frank KOTLER, Samuel OPPENHEIM, M.M. SNYDER and Frank STERNBERG. Foremost among these is Abe I. DANIELS. In times of stress, his guidance, farsighted leadership and perseverance, proved invaluable in preserving a vestige of Jewish life in the Connellsville Jewish Community. The 1955 roster of the B'nai Israel congregation and community center included 39 family memberships.

~ Jewish Organizations ~

~ The Zionists ~

In 1919, the Zionists were the largest organization in the Jewish community. Not alone the men, but women are very much interested in the movement. And as evidenced by their devotion to the cause, the women have organized a Hasassah Society which was organized about the same time when the Zionist chapter was created. The officers of the society were Mrs. S. M. LEVY (President), Miss. Lena KATZ and Mrs. William HERTZBERG (Vice-presidents), Mrs. S. ROSENFELD (Secretary) and Mrs. H VOGEL (Treasurer). This society has done splendid work in connection with the making garments for the poor in the regions of the Euphrates and Tigris.

On 9 February 1919, the Zion Chapter was organized and at this time had almost 100 members. The officers were H. GOLDSTONE (President), E. HOROWITZ (Vice-president), J. L. HOROWITZ (Secretary) and I. AARON (Treasurer). The executive committee was: H. GOLDSTONE, J. KINSBURSKY, Mrs. Sol ROSENFELD, Mrs. S. M. LEVY, Mrs. E. C. HORWITZ and Mrs. Julius HARRIS. Zionists believe in democracy in its widest sense, including the right of representation by women, as will be noted by the representatives on the executive committee.

In 1922, the Zion Chapter was headed by H. GOLDSTEIN (President).

B'nai Brith Lodge #801

In 1916, a B'nai B'rith Lodge #801 was formed as a link in the chain of the order of district number three, and the first president of the B'nai B'rith Lodge was Emanuel HORWITZ. In 1919, the officers were H. GOLDSTEIN (President), Dr. TUCKER (Vice-president), Dr. Lewis SHRALLOW (Secretary) and L. FETTERMAN (Treasurer). There were 27 members in the Lodge and it performed excellent work in promoting all Jewish causes that come under the jurisdiction of the order.

By 1922, the B'nai B'rith Lodge was extremely active with 30 members in the lodge, considering that there are a few communities in Western Pennsylvania with an active branch of this justly infamous independent order. The Lodge has many worthwhile committees accomplish much in the things for which the independent order represents. the officers of the lodge are H. GOLDSTEIN (President), Dr. A. M. TUCKER (Vice-president), Dr. L. SHRALLOW (Secretary) and Lewis FETHERMAN (Treasurer).

Young Man's Hebrew Association

One of the most promising organizations was the Young Man's Hebrew Association (Y.M.H.A), which was obliged to disband in 1917, because of WWI. In 1919, some of the leaders returned from military service and again become active. The Y.M.H.A. movement is gaining strength every year and all over the country, the Y.M.H.A.'s, which found it so difficult to make progress, were able to see enthusiastic support and cooperation of their communities. Every Jewish community realizes the value of these Y.M.H.A.'s and were willing to support them. The Jews of Connellsville, wishing to promote an organization that is essential to the very welfare of their community, their faith and their people, reestablished a Y.M.H.A. for their community.

The Ladies' Aid Society

The Ladies' Aid Society numbered about 40 and performed splendidly, looking after the wants of the needy. Like all other patriotic groups, these women, during WWI, worked for the Red Cross, solicited funds for the war relief, help to collect money for Jewish war sufferers and entered heartily into all those activities which required the utmost from the nation in that in time of the great trial. The officers are Mrs. BERMAN (President), Mrs. FINKEL (Vice-president), Mrs. J. MORRIS (Treasurer) and Mrs. KLAIRE (Secretary).

In connection with the war activities, is not a amiss to note that the Jewish residents of Connellsville, as a whole, took an active interest and perform their duty in the matter of promoting all of the various activities in connection with the Liberty Bond, the Red Cross, United War Work and in other campaigns.


In 1919, the women being very interested in service to the Jewish community, organized a Hasassah Society. The officers of the society were Mrs. S. M. LEVY (President), Miss. Lena KATZ and Mrs. William HERTZBERG (Vice-presidents), Mrs. S. ROSENFELD (Secretary) and Mrs. H VOGEL (Treasurer). This society performed splendid work in connection with the making garments for the poor in the regions of the Palestine.

In 1922, the Hadassah Chapter of Connellsville had as its officers Mrs. S. M. LEVY (President), Miss Lena KATZ and Mrs. William HERZBERG (Vice-presidents), Mrs. S. ROSENFELD (Secretary) and Mrs. H. VOGEL (Treasurer). The membes of the Hadassah accomplished splendid work making garments for the poor in Palestine.

National Council of Jewish Women

Always prominent in local Jewish history, is the Connellsville chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, which was organized in 1919. The NCJW was responsible for the operation of the Sunday school and was affiliated with the southwestern district of religious schools.

In 1922, the officers of the NCJW, Connellsville section, were Mrs. G. GOLDSMITH (President), Mrs. J. RAPPAPORT (Secretary), and Mrs. D. AARON (Treasurer).

Due to the lack of facilities in the synagogue, they felt the need of establishing a meeting place for religious and social activity, and therefore the membership spearheaded a remodeling program. The work on the remodeled, renovated, and extended building was started in the fall of 1953 and completed in September 1954, just in time for the resumption of High Holiday services. The remodeled edifice stood proudly as a monument of progress and growth in Connellsville, symbolizing the religious aspirations and dreams of our present generation who have dedicated themselves the service of God and mankind.

~ Summary ~

This small but enterprising community kept in touch with Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh and in every way, contributed to the values in advancing the cause of Jews and Judaism. By their initiative in creating organizations and societies—that show their appreciation of the value of the spiritual side of their faith— the Jewish community of Connellsville was commended for their progress developing the right kind of Jewish community.

Sources (portions):
B'nai Israel Dedication Program - 15 May 1955
Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
The Jewish Criterion - Vol. 51 No. 22 - 25 July 1919
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
The Jewish Criterion - Vol. 57 No. 02 - 17 February 1922
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries

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Created and Compiled by:
Marshall J. KATZ, USA
with assistance from:

B'nai Israel Dedication Program - 15 May 1955
Connellsville Historical Society
Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
The Jewish Criterion - Vol. Vol. 51 No. 13 - 23 May 1919
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
The Jewish Criterion - Vol. 57 No. 02 - 17 February 1922
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
and the following:

JewishGen members/descendants and
contributors of Connellsville Jewish families:


Updated: 21 September 2020

Copyright ©2015
Marshall J. Katz
All rights reserved

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