Synagogue - Beth-El, Jersey City

Percie Vivarttas

Temple Beth-El is the largest Jewish synagogue in Jersey City, New Jersey. Located on Kennedy Boulevard and Harrison Avenue, it has served the people of Jersey City in its current location since the 1920s.

The founding date of the original congregation is unknown although it probably dates to about 1864-65, when a small group of Jews began to meet informally for prayer and study. When they first formalized their association they adopted the name Isaac Ephraim Congregation. This was later changed to Beth Israel Congregation, and finally, in 1871, to Temple Beth-El.

The congregation of Temple Beth-El purchased the current property in February 1922. The ground breaking ceremony took place on June 7, 1925, and the Temple was completed in 1926 in time for the High Holy Day services.

Information courtesy Rabbi Kenneth Brickman, Temple Beth-El, September 2005.

Temple Beth-El, 1920s, Jersey City (Hudson County). Photograph by Dan Beards (see “community webshots” link, below).

Interior of the temple. Photograph courtesy Temple Beth-El, Jersey City (

Temple Beth-El was designed by Percie Vivarttas of Weehawken in the 1920s. Byzantine in style, it was inspired by Hagia Sophia, a cathedral-turned-mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.(1) Like Hagia Sophia, the temple is a “central plan” structure, with its length equal to its width. Although smaller in size than Hagia Sophia, Temple Beth-El also has a fairly simple, unadorned exterior as well as large round arches supporting a central dome.

(1) NJCU web site (see link below).

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