In 1985, a little chapel in the back of what was then the Lindenbaum Center on West 89th Street saw the first gathering of a fledgling congregation that would become West End Synagogue.
At its inception, our congregation was composed of members of the Manhattan Reconstructionist Havurah, the Havurah Hadashah, and another group that broke away from a larger local synagogue. Seekers all, these groups brought together their scholarship, spirituality, and energy to the process of establishing a brand new congregation.
As our congregation of seekers grew, so did we search for more space and light. After some attempts to merge with other congregations, we made the daring decision to strike out on our own. At an auction, we succeeded in purchasing our very own home, a building formerly housing a New York City Public Library – most appropriate for our growing collective of “people of the book.”
While still seekers, we are firmly established and have made real the word “synagogue,” derived from the Greek word for coming together, assembling, congregating. We are a determinedly inclusive congregation composed of those from Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform backgrounds, those from other faiths, and those from no faith at all. We are composed of members of diverse genders, sexualities, races, theologies, and ideologies, bound together by our shared joys and, of course, sorrows. As we cross the threshold of our 36th year – our double chai anniversary – we remain united in our yearnings to live a vibrant Jewish life that will bring blessings for us and all those who follow.