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History of Habonim

Black and white photograph of our groundbreakingHabonim was founded in November 1939, exactly one year after Kristallnacht. It was the intention of Rabbi Hugo Hahn and other founding members to create a place of worship here in New York City which reflected the style of worship they and other German refugees had been accustomed to in their native country. 

As such, we immediately experienced success in drawing people in, largely because we fulfilled the needs of our members by providing a familiar home in a foreign country. In 1944, we joined the Reform movement. In 1995, we affiliated with the Conservative movement. From the beginning, and continuing to today, our congregants did not live specifically on the Upper West Side or near Lincoln Center, but came from all over the City and surrounding areas. 

In the late 1940’s, Rabbi Hahn located a piece of property, which we purchased, located at 44 West 66th Street. Construction of our building began about five years later, and in 1958, Habonim had its own permanent home. We are building on that site again, and hope to be in our beautiful, modern space before long. 

At its height, Habonim had 1100 members with about 400 of them in Queens. Services were held in Manhattan and Queens. Religious School classes were held here at our "home base," as well as in Washington Heights and in Queens. At one point there were so many students in Queens that Habonim purchased a building in Rego Park just for the school. To this day, owing to our large number of original founding members residing in that borough, we still hold monthly services and Adult Education programs in Queens.

In 1994, the Habonim Board of Directors approved a proposal for the establishment of a Nursery School at Habonim. The Nursery School opened its doors in 1997 and since then has been a success story for the synagogue. Twenty-five percent of Habonim’s new members come through the Nursery School. The Nursery School, under the direction of Tina Lobel, is the biggest single institutional change in Habonim’s recent past.

The Religious School’s enrollment currently stands at over 100 students, aided by a steady flow of Nursery School graduates into the school and by the addition of new post Bar and Bat Mitzvah classes.

Under the strong leadership of Rabbi Lisa GelberCantorial Soloist & Music Educator Jessica (Futran) Scheinman), and President Susan Grant, Habonim is looking towards a bright future in which we will continue to succeed, grow, and prosper while we serve the needs of our community on the Upper West Side and beyond.

Learn about our upcoming new building!

Watch this amazing video on the history of Habonim, and click HERE to become a member yourself today!

Thu, April 18 2024 10 Nisan 5784