Congregation Ezrath Israel (The Actors' Temple)
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sidney F. Oppenheimer, 1923

The Actors' Temple, Congregation Ezrath Israel, was founded in 1917 as the West Side Hebrew Relief Association by Orthodox Jews in Hell's Kitchen. When entertainers were not accepted in society, Rabbi Bernard Birstein went to Broadway and made friends with actors in show business, providing a place of acceptance. Talent from vaudeville, cabaret, nightclubs, television, and Broadway made the synagogue an Actors' Temple. Some congregants included Al Jolson, Edward G. Robinson, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Eddie Cantor, Shelley Winters, The Three Stooges, Sophie Tucker, Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, and other lesser-known actors, comedians, singers, playwrights, composers, musicians, writers, dancers, theatrical agents, and sports figures. Famous non-Jewish entertainers like Ed Sullivan and Frank Sinatra, were friends of the Temple.

This historic building, constructed in 1922 within the walls of a brick tenement built before 1885, has been designated a national landmark, occupying the entire 25 foot wide building lot. Little remains of the pre-existing tenement except the foundation, some floor framing and portions of the brick rear and side walls. The sanctuary features stained-glass memorials and bronze plaques to many show business luminaries of yesteryear. Original headshots and biographies in our Actors' Photo Gallery are on the stairwell walls. The Actors' Temple is a part of American history, Jewish history, and Show Business history.

Sunday Tour Info: Ongoing tours with Actors’ Temple staff will take place throughout the day. (20 min)

Access Notes: There are 8 steps to enter the building. There are additional steps to access the restrooms.

 

Image Credit: Actors' Temple, Congregation Ezrath Israel