by Kevin Walsh

While most of NYC’s Jews belong to the Ashkenazim (German) or the Sephardim (Spain-Portugal) there is a third faction, the Romaniotes, whose roots go back to Greece. This, the only Romaniote synagogue in the western hemisphere, was completed here at 280 Broome Street near Allen in 1927.

See Comments section for a further explanation and correction below.

T.M Rives, Secret New York: An Unusual Guide:

“Janina’s appeal is fine-grained. It’s small. It’s humble, even a little dowdy… The main hall is divided, as is customary, with women seated above and men below, but the room is narrow and filled with sunlight pouring through the central skylight… Even the synagogue’s principal Torah has a utilitarian simplicity: the decorative crown on the olivewood case is a simple brass cutout with a Star of David punched into it with what might have been a nail.”

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”




Riecelle July 4, 2018 - 7:53 am

I’m so glad it’s still there

Andy July 4, 2018 - 10:17 am

Kevin, excellent posting but please permit me to make some minor corrections to the religious information. While it’s true that “most of NYC’s Jews belong to the Ashkenazim (German) or the Sephardim (Spain-Portugal)” some further explanation is required.

Ashkenazim and Sephardim are Jewish ethnic groups, not religious sects. The Ashkenazim are descended from people who originally settled in Northern and Eastern Europe beginning in the Middle Ages and comprise most North American Jews (about 90%). My wife and I are both of Ashkenazic background and are the grandchildren of the great Jewish immigration wave of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The biggest numbers of Ashkenazic Jews came predominantly from Eastern Europe, including Czarist Russia, Poland (which then did not exist as a country), Hungary, Lithuania, and Romania, and Germany. The German connection to Ashkenazim is less because of the nation and more because of the Yiddish language, which was spoken by all Ashkenazic Jews, regardless of their country of residence. Yiddish is a Germanic language written in the Hebrew alphabet, its name derived from “Jud,” the German word for Jew.

The Sephardim originated in the Iberian Peninsula during the period of Muslim rule in Spain. Their original language was Ladino, a derivative of medieval Spanish. After Christian rule was established in Spain in 1492, the Sephardic Jews who did not convert to Christianity were exiled and resettled in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. Today Israel has the biggest Sephardic population in the world, followed by France and the United States.


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