Discover Jewish History in Some of America's Greatest Cities!

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Discover a progressive Jewish interpretation of Maimonides' 13 principles here!

Celebrating 361 Years

of Jews in America

Have you clicked on these on-line selections from the new,
The Ten Commandments Guidebook by Michael Alan Ross?

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The Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook

6 Self-Guided Walking/Bicycling Jewish Boston History Tours

Covers Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge

Softcover 198 pages with maps & b/w photos

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Now available!

The Ten Commandments Guidebook

Ways to Self-Struggle with Classic Morals

In Song, Poetry, and Prose

Covers 10 Commandments Plus One Other!

Softcover 153 pages with practical suggestions pages!

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Boston Walks presents


Boston Walks'

The Jewish Friendship Trail

Walking Tour

Jewish Brookline Massachusetts


Coolidge Corner

Based upon historical notes and personal recollections of Coolidge Corner, Brookline, Massachusetts
1911 to 2008
Boston Walks' The Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook and its bibliography.

Copyright Michael Alan Ross, 1997-2015 All Rights Reserved.

Email: Boston Walks' The Jewish Friendship Trail

Presented by

Boston Walks, Publishers

- Telephone #617-489-5020 -

Click here to view a selection from our newest title
The Ten Commandments Guidebook

Like Jack & Marions Restaurant, a onetime Coolidge Corner focalpoint, 20th century Brookline had flair...

The Jewish community in Brookline is one hundred years old. Starting around 1911, enough Jews moved into Brookline to begin the first minyan - prayer group. Initially, that worship service was held in private quarters. By the 1920s, two synagogues emerged - Temple Ohabei Shalom and Congregation Kehillath Israel.

These two temples would be the forerunners of a Jewish population in Brookline of close to 25,000 persons by the late 1950s. With brief variations, that number of Jews in Brookline did not changed greatly through the 2nd half of the 20th century and into the 21st century.

To meet the needs of these Jews, all sorts of community and private resources evolved - ten synagogues including the original first two, numerous Hebrew schools, Jewish Sunday schools, several Talmud Torah, a Hebrew college, a Jewish community center (albeit across the line in Brighton's Cleveland Circle for many years), and a retail area that has waxed and waned on Harvard Street (with some overflow onto Beacon Street - particularly, in the Washington Square area) that, at times, has stood up to former competitors such as Salem Street - North End, Arlington Street - Chelsea, and Blue Hill Avenue - Dorchester.

The Harvard Street environs of the late 1950s through the 1970s is fondly remembered by some for the


  • Brookline's Edward Devotion School with principal Dr. Lytle, Miss. Ellis' English class, & Miss Funk's History class
  • Kehillath Israel Synagogue's Hebrew School Chelm story readings with Messrs. Spack, Ginzberg, Gomborow, Shindler, Pinkas, & Ms. Brun in the Auditorium
  • KI's High Holiday tent
  • Irving's Candy Store with Irving AND Ethel
  • Max's & Girsh's Sunnyside Foods
  • Mr. & Mrs. Feldman's Bakery
  • the original Mr. Rubin's Deli
  • Mr. Hecht's Drug Store
  • Nat Bluestein's Market
  • Anita Chu's
  • Mr. Druker's Aborn Lock
  • Bostoner Rebbe's matza making way up Beacon Street
  • Joining together the kids from KI and Young Israel to dance with the Torahs at the Bostoner Rebbe's on Simchat Torah
  • Southern House's & Chateau Garod's bar mitzvah & sweet sixteen receptions
  • Friends' bar mitzvahs at Ohabei Shalom with its professional choir
  • the NEW Pleasant Street library
  • the OLD Coolidge Corner Theatre most often featuring Doris Day, Rock Hudson & (yes) John Wayne
  • Ice skating at Devotion Playground
  • playing Baseball at Russell Playground
  • Bike riding to Amory Park
  • sitting on the huge wraparound porches of Centre Street's old Victorians
  • Babcock Street before the NEW fire station
  • Rabbi Saltzman's fiery sermons
  • Cantor Michal Hammerman's warm, smiling, powerful voice
  • KI's Oscar Landers Hall High Holiday services with Harry Kraft
  • the "very expensive" SS PIERCE store
  • PICK A CHICK's bagels
  • Jack & Marions' Chicken in a Basket

Harvard Street, since the 1970s, has seen many superficial changes. It continues, though, to be a strong focal point for Jewish life at the end of the 1st decade of the 21st century. It seems to engender constant reinvigoration with new retailers serving revitalized Jewish needs among others.

A Taste of the Sites of Jewish Experience Along BostonWalks' The Jewish Friendship Trail in Brookline

  • To understand where and when Jews arrived in Brookline, Massachusetts, it helps to know a little about the Jewish history of Boston, Massachusetts.

  • The Jews of Boston came in two noticeable waves - or should we say in one rivulet and one river.

  • The rivulet started in the 1840s and emanated from Central Europe. So-called German Jews from places such as Posin included Jewish families such as the William Filene family, founders of the Filene Department Stores. These Central European Jews did not arrive in Boston in large numbers but rather totalled about 3,000 arrivals between the 1840s and 1870s. Starting out in Boston as Orthodox Jews, during those three decades of the 1840s to 1870s, many of them turned to Reform Judaism. Two of the significant synagogues which these Central European Jews created included Boston's first synagogue, Ohabei Shalom, and Boston's second synagogue, Temple Israel. By the time Ohabei Shalom moved to Brookline in the 1920s, its congregation is moderately Reform with some Conservative tendencies.

  • Compared with the small rivulet of Central European Jews coming to Boston, the Eastern European Jews constituted a gushing river! This river of Eastern European Jews started coming into Boston in the 1870s. So-called Polish Jews from places such as Lithuania included a Jewish family surnamed Rabinovitz - later to shorten their name to Rabb and start the Stop and Shop supermarket chain. Relatively speaking, the Eastern European Jews came into Boston in large numbers. Between the 1870s and 1920s, approximately 100,000 Eastern European Jews arrived in Boston. While, like the Central European Jews initially landing with their Orthodoxy intact; unlike large numbers of Central European Jews transition to Reform practices, many of the Eastern European Jews gradually turned to Conservative Jewish practices. Among the early significant synagogues which the Eastern European Jews created were the North End's Baldwin Place shul (Beth Israel), the West End's North Russell Street shul (Beit HaMidrash HaGadol), and Roxbury's Blue Hill Avenue and Crawford Street shuls.

  • KI (Kehillath Israel), Brookline's first synagogue, stemmed from this Eastern European Jewry. Beginning around 1911, Eastern European Jews, still Orthodox, began moving into Coolidge Corner from Boston's North End. Most likely, they had davened (prayed), previously to coming into Brookline, at the Baldwin Place shul! By the 1910s, these first Brookline Jews had formed a regular minyan (prayer group) and high holiday services. Before locating a building, they would daven regularly in members' apartments and rented Whitney hall - upstairs in the well-known SS Pierce building - for the high holidays. In the mid-teens, they purchased their first building at the corner of Harvard and Thorndike Streets. Finally, in the early 1920s, they purchased the site on Harvard Street where KI would be built. In January, 1925, they opened Congregation Kehillath Israel's main sanctuary. The first rabbi employed by KI had been the rabbi at the Crawford Street shul. Known as an eloquent scholar, he was Rabbi Lewis M. Epstein, whom KI's auxiliary building, the auditorium, would be named after when it was built 23 years later! During that first year, 1925, KI adopted mixed seating and began evolving from Orthodoxy to Conservative Judaism. As a Conservative synagogue, with multiple prayer groups from egalitarian to traditional, KI continues on Harvard Street today.

  • A small group from KI, wishing to maintain their Orthodoxy, formed their own separate minyan (quorum needed for prayer) by 1926 and called themselves Congregation Sons of Israel. They were the seed for another Brookline synagogue today known as Young Israel. Young Israel of Brookline was more formally organized in the 1940s; and, by the 1950s, YI had its first congregational building on Fuller Street. By the 1960s, Young Israel had purchased and begun using a building on Green Street, its present site. When fire destroyed Young Israel's facilities in the early 1990s, the shul rebuilt completely, creating Brookline's newest facility for Jewish worship (1994).

  • Breakaway groups forming their own minyans is a tradition in itself in Boston's Jewish-American history. Another breakaway group which formed a Brookline Jewish synagogue broke away from Temple Israel, Boston's second synagogue, in the late 1930s. This breakaway group formed Temple Sinai in 1939; and the Second Unitarian Society Church building at the corner of Charles Street and Sewall Avenue. Temple Sinai, a Reform synagogue, remains at the same location today.

  • Ohabei Shalom, Boston's first synagogue, decided to move to Brookline in the 1920s, after locating in three other previous sites in Boston's lower and upper South End. By the time Ohabei Shalom moved to Brookline, its congregation had been in existence for over seventy-five years! It already was (and is) a successful, moderate Reform house of worship. In Brookline, on Beacon Street between Kent and Marshall Streets, Ohabei Shalom built a magnificent two building complex. The first building was completed in 1926. It served as the school and original social hall. The main sanctuary was completed in 1928. Ohabei Shalom continues as a Reform synagogue at that location today.

Walking to sites of Jewish experience in Brookline is an opportunity to feel the similarities and differences which embody Jewish life today and then in this wonderful community. For BostonWalks, this educational/recreational learning-style is intellectually stimulating as well as physically invigorating. We're pleased to share the experience.
Join us by clicking here to purchase our self-guided, six Jewish Boston walk tours Guidebook, BostonWalks' The Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook, 2nd Edition!

From the Charles River, a red, white, and blue agenda flows!

Now available!

The Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook

6 Self-Guided Walking/Bicycling Jewish Boston History Tours

Covers Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge

Softcover 198 pages with maps & b/w photos

Click here
Book Order Form
to ordernow!

Now available!

The Ten Commandments Guidebook

Ways to Self-Struggle with Classic Morals

In Song, Poetry, and Prose

Covers 10 Commandments Plus One Other!

Softcover 153 pages with practical suggestions pages!

Click here
Book Order Form
to order now!

"West End House" circa 2004
Begun by 35 Jewish boys in 1903!
Click here to connect with more of
Boston's Best!

Chazak Ve-ematz
be strong and resolute

(Moses words to Joshua in Deut. 31:7)

Click here for 10 reasons for more bike trails!

Should orthodox women have the same opportunities to participate in learning, davening, and minhagim as men?

Click here for an original, creative, poetic elaboration of such a question,


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10 Ways to Bring Middle Class Families Back into New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and other Cities

considering the best of the suburban paradigm for our large cities.

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in light of Hillel's If I'm only for myself, what am I?

To be satisfied with life

perhaps, one might consider this raspberry!

Click here for an original, creative, re-interpretation for progressive Jews of Maimonides classic Jewish prayer of affirmation of Jewish faith, "Ani Maamin,"


by Michael Alan Ross

Do you know how many Americans die yearly in car crashes?...
...How many?

When was the last time you really laughed?

We're featuring good Jewish jokes!
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Email us at with your contribution!

Isn't time to make unhealthy hospitals history?

Here's 10 ways to make our hospitals healthier!

Sing Sense to America

Question: What's a political mensch?

Answer #1
Answer #2


Integrating the urban, modern ethnic experience with its historical sites and ethical themes in urban locales such as Boston, MA, Portland, ME, East Bay and Providence, RI, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, NYC.

img FileneimgBest of BostonimgNYC UWSimgBrandeis imgLove Your NeighborimgWatertown, New Town, & Muddy RiverimgWalk Near WaterimgRefute Hate imgWalk West/North Ends imgWe're One imgPray HereimgMeditationimgClubsimgBrooklineimgSensual WalksimgMore LoveimgReportingimgJewish BooksimgTENimgSouth End imgWhat's a political mensch? imgMore "What's a political mensch?"

Table of Contents of Boston Walks The Jewish Friendship Trail