Manhattan Beach Jewish Center
Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, with the later addition in the background
Backstory and Context
The years following World War II saw Jewish community centers established throughout the United States and other countries, and existing community centers significant membership increases. Brooklyn had one of the nation's largest Jewish populations, and in 1952, the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center was built. It would serve as the synagogue for the B'Nai Israel congregation.
The center was based on the design of architect Jacob W. Sherman. The synagogue, which shows an obvious Bauhaus influence common among synagogues built during that time, was completed in 1952. There were plans for an adjacent community center, but it was delayed for a decade due to a lack of funding. When the center was finally completed in 1962, it included a swimming pool, meeting rooms, classrooms, a ballroom, and a gymnasium.
In the 1920s, Congregation B'Nai Israel operated a school jointly with the Congregation Bethel. The school was known as the "Jewish Center," but the congregations didn't fully adopt the concept of a center until the new facility was built in 1952, and particularly with the expansion ten years later. It was only after the addition of the seven-story community center that the name was changed to the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center.
The Manhattan Beach Jewish Center is still a vital part of Brooklyn's Jewish community, which has grown in recent years. In 2012, the center was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Sandy, which inundated the synagogue and community center with five feet of water. The facilities underwent a lengthy recovery and restoration, and the original historic structure survived largely intact.
In 2015, the center was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Berke, Ned. Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, Built in 1952, Nominated for Historic Designation, Bklyner. April 6th 2015. Accessed August 25th 2019. https://bklyner.com/manhattan-beach-jewish-center-built-in-1952-nominated-for-historic-designation-sheepshead-bay/.
Spivak, Anna . Manhattan Beach Jewish Center Recognized for Rich History , Brooklyn Reporter . April 1st 2015. Accessed August 26th 2019. https://brooklynreporter.com/2015/04/manhattan-beach-jewish-center-recognized-for-rich-history/.