In the course of these fifty years, at least five minyans (prayer groups) evolved into
North End shuls (synagogues). Talmud Torahs and heders (Hebrew schools) also developed
Three buildings which housed these shuls and Hebrew schools still exist today in the
once served as Hebrew Schools and today are
nondescript North End alleyway sites. None of these three buildings have plaques.
Beginning in 1875, Boruch Isaac Reinherz, intermittently functioned as hazzan (cantor) and shochet (koshering butcher) for Congregations Chevra Tehillim, Shomre Shabbos, and Beth Abraham. When the latter two congregations merged to become Shomre Beth Abraham in 1886, Moses Z. Margolies, an experienced rabbi and student of the Talmud, became the combined shul's spiritual leader.
Rabbi Margolies, known by the acronym "RaMaZ," also later acted as rabbi for both Congregation Beth Israel (the Baldwin Place Synagogue) - the largest shul of Boston's North End - which for 31 years (1889-1920) was situated at the end of Baldwin Place, and for Congregation Shaarei Jerusalem which for more than 40 years (1903-1945) stood
at the end of Jerusalem Place (formerly Carroll Place). Neither of these buildings are extant today.
During the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the Baldwin Place Synagogue in particular was considered a central address for traditional Judaism in Boston. In addition, this shul's women's auxiliary created and
maintained the nearby Cooper Street B'not Israel Sheltering Home for newly arrived immigrants.
While Jewish backgrounds of 1st generation Eastern European male immigrants to
Boston's North End typically were traditional; survival here meant balancing priorities
among work, a wife and children (who, initially, were
dependents at home), education and Americanization, organizations (clubs, unions, etc.), and shuls/Jewishness.
Work for a sizable number of our 1st generation Eastern European Jewish male immigrants was in the garment industries. Quite a few of the men were tailors, dressmakers, and hat and cap makers.
Other common livelihoods included carpentry and woodworking, shoemaking, clerking and accounting, and painting and glazing. There also were Jewish butchers and bakers, locksmiths and blacksmiths, tinners and metalworkers, watch and clock makers,
tobacco workers (particularly, cigar rollers), barbers, furriers, bookbinders, photographers, upholsterers, and jewelers. Not to leave out peddlers and merchants, teachers, and musicians.
In practice, then, due to the demands of earning a living; the men's principal Jewish
expressions included making a minyan (prayer quorum), sharing Friday night shabbos dinner, celebrating simchas (weddings and bar mitzvahs) and yontifs (holy days), and feeding the pushkes (the charity boxes). In addition, some of the men participated in a
North End Talmud study group (chevra shas) and a burial society (chevra kadisha).
1st generation Eastern European Jewish women immigrants and children constituted
approximately half of the North End's Jewish population. A majority of these women were housewives and mothers. While most were not formally educated; many of the women either had or developed skills such as sewing, cooking and baking, cleaning, shopping, child care, and Yiddishkite (performing the rituals of a traditional Jewish
wife...from making Shabbos to going to a mikvah).
Some of these 1st generation Jewish women immigrants earned money by sewing piece goods at home, by taking in boarders, and by running (by themselves or with their husbands) small retail shops. It was the daughters of the 1st generation who, along with
their fathers, more often became full-time workers in the various garment industries.
Jewish children in the North End were quickly enrolled in public schools, Hebrew schools, and clubs. Jewish girls could participate in Lina Hecht's and Golde Bamber's Hebrew Industrial School. Jewish boys sometimes earned money as newsboys.
When the North End's Baldwin Place Synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, disbanded in 1920; the shul's aron kodish (the holy ark) made of hand-carved mahogany was transferred to Temple Bnai Brith in Somerville, Massachusetts where the aron kodish still is in use today.