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Section 4

posted Jul 25, 2014, 4:49 PM by Ezrath Israel   [ updated Apr 3, 2018, 2:44 PM ]

Our Unique and Proud History

The Actors’ Temple was founded in 1917 as the West Side Hebrew Relief Association. Its leaders were Orthodox Jews who owned shops in the rough-and-tumble district called Hell's Kitchen, at the time one of the world's busiest steamship ports. The founders borrowed a Biblical nickname for God, Ezrath Israel, "the One who assists Israel," as the name for their benevolent little Jewish community center. At a time when show business people were not readily accepted in society, Rabbi Bernard Birstein and later Cantor Louis Malamud went to Broadway and made friends with Sophie Tucker, Red Buttons, and other actors working in show business. They provided a place where actors could be accepted and feel at home. The actors introduced their friends to the synagogue, and the rest, as they say, is history.