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No, we're not talking about a bison named Herschel, who roamed the plains in search of a good bagel.


(First, a disclaimer. I'm not Jewish, so please excuse me if I get any terminology wrong.)

On April 17, the Jewish Community Center of Buffalo sponsored a bus tour of Buffalo's East Side, to visit some forgotten relics of the city's early 20th century Jewish community. The tour didn't cover everything, and there are some old shuls and other sites still standing that aren't in the photos below.

In 1900, the long-established German Jewish community was assimilated and living in middle-class and upper income West Side neighborhoods, while newly arriving Russian and Polish Jews settled in the city's traditional "zone of emergence" on the Lower East Side, centered on William Street and Jefferson Avenue. As they grew in affluence, many families bought homes in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, west of Humboldt Parkway.

The Jewish presence on Buffalo's East SIde dwindled in the 1950s. The "exodus" was caused by blockbusting and racial transition in Humboldt Park, and a massive neighborhood-clearing urban renewal project on the Lower East Side. Most Russian and Polish Jews moved to the North Park neighbotrhood in Buffalo, or new suburban neighborhoods to the north in Tonawanda.

Today, about 60% of Erie County's Jewish population live in Amherst. Most of the rest reside in the city's Delaware District, Elmwood Village and North Park neighborhoods, and the eastern end of the Town of Tonawanda.




The Jefferson Avenue Shul, also called Ahavas Sholem Synagogue, is located on the east side of Jefferson Avenue, north of William Street on Buffalo's Lower East Side. The congregation left the building in the 1950s, when urban renewal destroyed much of the Lower East Side. The shul was built in 1903, and is Buffalo's oldest standing former synagogue.





Across te street from the Jefferson Avenue Shuil is the former site of the Buffalo Jewish Community Center. The A.D. Price public housing project is in the background.



The surrounding neighborhood today.









Off of William Strreet.



Redeveloped area near William Street on Buffalo's Lower East Side.





A synagogue in Polonia? Many Jewish merchants and their families in the Broadway-Fillmore area congregated at the Fillmore Avenue Shul, also called Ahavas Achim Sunagogue. The shul is located on the east side of Fillmore Avenue, about a block north of Broadway. In 1950, Ahavas Achim merged with another East Side congregation, Anshe Lubavitz, and moved to North Buffalo.







Fillmore Avenue around the former Fillmore Avenue Shul.







Former Humboldt Orthodox Center shul on Glenwood Avenue. The building used to be a telephone company switching and operator ofice until it was purchased by the Orthodox Center.





Detail of the former Temple Beth David, on the east side of Humboldt Parkway in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. I couldn't get a better shot.



Street in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.



Jefferson Avenue in Humboldt Park.





The former Temple Beth Zion is located on the east side of Richmond Street, in a healthy section of Buffalo's West Side. The congregation moved to Tonawanda in 1966, to be closer to the growing Jewish population in Amherst and the eastern section of Tonawanda. Two synagogues and a branch of the Jewish Community Center of Buffalo still remain on the West Side today.





















The neighborhood surrounding the former synagogue.













The most haunting stop was at the Beth Jacob Cemetery, in the city's Genesee-Moselle neighborhood, the most "keepin' it real" drug and gang-infested area ion the East Side. This was the cemetery of Temple Beth David, also known as the Clinton Street Shul, which disbanded in the 1940s or 1950s. The neighborhood was never home to a Jewish population; the cemetery was started decades ago, when its location was considered far out in the country. The last burial took place in 1970.

The surrounding neighborhood, once a blue collar, predominantly German neighborhood, experienced rapid racial and socioeconomic transition in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As the neighborhood became more dangerous, the Beth Jacob Cemetery was forgotten.



























The surrounding neighborhood.







 

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Wow- how times have changed. I grew up not far from Beth-Jacob Cemetary, off Genesee and Bailey until the folks packed up for the southtowns. My grandmother and some other relatives styed until the late-1980's on Burgard. Then fled also. Anyone remember Gobieski's toy store at Doat and Genesee???
 

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I for one feel that neglect to any cemetery is an evil and illegal thing to do. Mayor Maccielieooloooo needs to get his fat ass down there and pick up some head stones.

"and people wonder why the city is not drawing a working, saving, honest generation...look at these photos"
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ECoastTransplant said:
Wow- how times have changed. I grew up not far from Beth-Jacob Cemetary, off Genesee and Bailey until the folks packed up for the southtowns. My grandmother and some other relatives styed until the late-1980's on Burgard. Then fled also.
On the street, the things you notice the most are litter, illegal dumping, and vacant lots here and there. 20 years ago, the neighborhood was packed with two-flats and telescoping houses. Now, gaps are starting to appear, and streetscapes are starting to look like a ********' teeth. Buffalo doesn't have any Detroit-style "urban prairie," but you can see it forming. Here's the corner of Genesee and Jefferson.



Some people say that blacks are migrating further from the city because the black population is growing. That's definitely untrue. IMHO, the major cause is the loss of housing units in traditionally African-American neighborhoods.

Wonder how long it will be before we see evidence if a growing urban prairie in neighborhoods that went over the tipping point in the past decade, like Kensington and Schiller Park. :(
 

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Good photo essay...another place you might want to get a picture of before
it's torn down for another Rite Aid or Kwik Fill is at the corner of Kenmore & Alden Ave.

It's called The Svitz (sp?) and it's a Jewish Bath House.

I used to have a boss that frequented it and from what I was to understand it was
a place where Jewish business owners went to schvet and schmingle. ;)

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We passed by The Schvitz, but didn't stop to tour or photograph it; it's still open and functioning as a bath house.

There's still three synagogues in North Buffalo; they're all Orthodox. There are a few more former synagogues there, but they've all been reoccupied by Christian churches. Even then, many non-Orthodox Jews still reside in North Buffalo; it's a diverse, convenient and comfortable area, and there's nothing keeping them away.
 

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BuffCity said:
I for one feel that neglect to any cemetery is an evil and illegal thing to do. Mayor Maccielieooloooo needs to get his fat ass down there and pick up some head stones.

"and people wonder why the city is not drawing a working, saving, honest generation...look at these photos"
i hope it's simply neglect. unfortunately i have the feeling the tombstones were knocked down though. probably by some punk teenagers who have no respect for the dead and think that because no one's getting hurt, then it's okay to do.
 

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I recently saw an article in the Buffalonian about Buffalo cemeteries.

There used to be one on the SW corner of Delaware Avenue and North Street. I think that's where Walgreen’s is now.

It's weird to think there was a cemetery there at one point.

I guess there's very little of this world where someone didn't once die or is/was buried.

BUFFALONIAN LINK
 
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