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Saturday, September 07, 2013


 The Jewish section of Trenton before "Urban Renewal" destroyed most of that area of what we fondly called "Jewtown." It is a fascinating part of Trenton history. The "JEWISH" folder in the Hamilton Library database is, has been, and will continue to grow as additional material surfaces. I extracted the highlighted map from the 1905 Mueller map of the city of Trenton in order to place the location of the Synagogue. The photographer took the photo as seen from Fall Street. Union Street is the street in the background where the Synagogue was located. The graphic came from my favorite local historian, Sally Lane (Graf). Her "Time and Again" and many other history columns in the past in my opinion eclipse those of predecessors John Cleary, Harry Podmore and Bill Dwyer. Sally's offerings almost always included rare Trentoniana photos of persons, places, and things which were largely lacking in the aforementioned Trenton writers. I credit the photo above to Sally, and it is possible it came from the Trentoniana Collection at the Trenton Free Public Library. Sally has always been my very favorite Trenton "bygone days" columnist. I have a collection of MANY of her columns and will be digitizing them as time permits, and posting them on this website. 
NOTE:The Second Presbyterian Church was relocated to Mill Hill.


Many thanks to Mr. Arthur L. Finkle for the historic information on the People of Truth Synagogue:

Congregation of the People of Truth (Anshei Emes) was an offshoot of the 1200 family membership of Brothers of Israel. organized 1891. In 1902 the new congregation purchased the Second Presbyterian Church, on Union Street, refitted it for a synagogue; dedicated it on  March 15, 1903.

 In 1908, Max Surfnoss was the rabbi of the People of Truth synagogue. He lived nearly at 59 Union street. Born Vilna, Russia, he attended college in his native city; became a Rabbi. His first congregation was at Old Kinek, Province of Vilna. He emigrated to America in 1892. He was Rabbi of a New York congregation for about four years, and came to Trenton in 1896 at the call of the People of Truth congregation,
Before he died, Isaac Levy, President of Brothers of Israel for ten year s, was also President of this new congregation. His obituary is seen below:
Rabbi Max Surfnoss
Its officers were: President Peter Unger, Louis Kaplan, Isaac Goldman, Harry Kohn, Charles Smith, Harry Cooper. Isaac Goldman, Harry Kohn, Abraham Schultz and Solomon Jaffe.  In 1893 the congregation established a cemetery near Cedar Lane, Hamilton Township.
Anshie Emes, or People of Truth con­gregation two structures at Union and Fall streets: the synagogue and a school for a capacity of 200 students. There are two teachers, H. Hinkin and Hyman Vroblinsky. The Sabbath school has for its teachers Miss Fannie Bushnon and Eleak Budsin.
ISAAC,  LEVY One of the Most
Prominent Residents of South Trenton Died
Saturday: '' July 28, 1909  Trenton Times – Advertiser


The funeral service of Isaac Levy of 304 union street, one of the oldest find *most prominent members -of the Jewish race in South Trenton, who died Satur­day, following a lingering illness of -over a year) yesterday afternoon from his late residence at 4 o'clock; Services- according to the Jewish rite by the -Rev. Hersh Elitzer, of the Synagogue of the Israelites Brotherhood.
Gathered around the coffin were the im­mediate members or the family, while a lair number of relatives, friends and many who were befriended in life, filled the house and the sidewalk in the vicinity.
Mr. Levy was one of the earliest He­brews to ,settle in South Trenton, where 'he has remained all his life, and from e first day his chief mission was to aid -his countrymen. Being a contractor, the deceased was the promoter of the build­ing of the present- beautiful synagogue of the Israelites' 'Brotherhood, of which he was a member, and the first and only free Hebrew school in Trenton.
He aimed unceasingly at Jewish pro­gress, and to this end gave much time and money. His work with the members" of the congregation was met with their heartiest approval, and several medals were presented to him as a taken of their appreciation.
His labors did not cease even when the dread disease that removed him from life, first compelled him to retire from business. During the past nine months Mr. Levy organized and financed a pro­ject to help the poorer classes of his own people, a scheme which already, though its infancy, is doing great good among the Jews.

There is a really good website featuring Jewish history in the Trenton area:




Anonymous said...


This "Schul" was the focal point of the street (Fall St) where I was born, and lived until until 1949, and then moved around the corner next to the Trent House.
I sent Art Finkle a photo of this beautiful house of worship, where as I got to be of high school age, was called upon to make a minion for the moring prayers. This despite the fact I had made my commuion and confirmation at Sacred Heart Church.
I am reading this just as I was about to send my many Jewish friends, and former neighbors a "Goot Yontif" for thses high holy days which started the other night, and a wish for a peaceful, and and happy Yom Kippur as they are about to celebrate The New Year

Good wishes to all

Mike Kuzma

Tom Glover said...

Thanks, Mike.Really nice to hear from you again.


joe p. said...

is that the old Parker school on the map and photo to the left of the synagogue?

Anonymous said...


I was born just a block away from this house of worship in 1933.
I never knew the building you refer too as anything but part of the Schul. It was a large building where on appropriate holidays (Sukkoth)sp, they would set up tin roofed structures.
I was one of the first kids to enter the "New Parker" school in the 300 block of Union St. in 1939 after kindergarten at Skelton School waiting for the new school to open.

Mike Kuzma