Historic outline
1890 ?
Established as Ohel Moshe in the home of Abraham Lang
House was rented for a congregation on Cadieux St.
A theatre was bought at 16 Lagauchetiere East1 to serve as a synagogue for the congregation renamed Beth Yehuda.
Construction of synagogue at 210 Duluth East (corner Hotel de Ville)
Organization of a women's auxiliary
Amalgamation with Shomrim Laboker and Tifereth Joseph at 6410 Westbury

Source : Sara Ferdman Tauben

Physical description
The building at 210 Duluth must have been a monumental structure in comparison with the modest stature of surrounding buildings. As early as 1914, the congregation had begun to search for a site for a building further uptown, that is, further north along St. Lawrence where the community was moving. The lot was purchase in 1919 and the building completed in 1919.
As most purpose built synagogues of the period, it exhibits little architectural originality. Similar neo-Romanesque style details of arched fenestration and arcade reliefs punctuating the roof peaks are evident in a convent church built prior to the Beth Yehuda at Mt. Royal and Cote St. Catherine. A synagogue in Rheims, France, probably built in the early part of the century, offers a good example of a European prototype though its decorative vocabulary is more elaborate. As in the Beth Yehuda, both the façade and rear are dominated by a circular window with and inscribed magen david. The central peak is topped with the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the side walls are lines will circular windows at the level of the women's gallery.
The building was converted into apartments in the sixties. The apartment building balconies, aluminum windows, and extended side wings overlay original architectural details. The former circular windows, which must have flanked the women's gallery, are now boarded nonfunctioning rings of brick, visible only from a distance. Inscribed in the rear of the building is a tracing in brick of the former circular window which probably illuminated the space above the aron hakodesh.
Source : Sara Ferdman Tauben
Social history
TPublication  du 50 th anniversairehe 50th anniversary booklet of 1940 suggests that the congregation recognized its date of origin as being around 1890. The booklet features a history of the congregation written by a former president, Gidaliahu Michalovksy, based on "archives of the synagogue recollections of older members and activists." According to his account, the Beth Yehuda originated with a small congregation of Hasidic followers of the Bohusher rabbi. They named the congregation Ohel Moshe after the Bohusher rabbi's son. The congregation took on the name Beth Yehuda with the purchase of a former theatre creating "quite a fine shul" which allowed the congregation to attract more members making it, by their own account, a focal point of the community. Even in this renovated building, their records indicated a constant struggle to maintain the building. Nevertheless, an offer to purchase the building in 1914, prompted them to consider purchasing a lot further north in order to construct a new synagogue.
The completion of the synagogue on Duluth and Hotel de Ville in 1923 was naturally a momentous and proud moment for the congregation.
"In that year the large and beautiful synagogue was built with all the improvements and with splendor and glory. Neither effort nor money was spared. We erected such a fine building that it was the pride of all Montreal Jews."
This moment of pride was soon to be deflated. Reflective of the financial difficulties which were to continue to plague the congregation, no sooner was it erected, than it was placed on a "sheriff's sale," due to unpaid bills to contractors, and rescued, thanks to the intervention of several generous members, a situation which reoccurred with alarming frequency. The congregation, burdened by an expensive building, was vulnerable not only to economic fluctuations, but to the constantly changing residential patterns of its members. When Mr. Michalovsky took office in 1929 he noted that even more serious than the stock market crash was the movement away from the neighborhood of the wealthier members and seat holders who left the synagogue a "widow" with deficits, debts, and expenses.
The need to raise funds was an ongoing enterprise. One of the more successful fundraising strategies was the presentation of cantorial concerts. Well known cantors, often from the States, were invited to serve during the High Holidays. Often a concert would be presented before the holidays which would not only bring in revenue but encourage the purchase of seats. The performances of one rather young cantor proved to be particularly successful. Following a warning of a bank foreclosure in 1934, Mr. Michalovsky suggested that a cantor be hired for Saturdays and special concerts. When the first two cantors proved to be a disappointing draw, it was decided to bring in Cantor Shloimele, an eleven year old prodigy. The young cantor was engaged to sing for the High Holidays. "It was an event that brought a smile to the face of every member." The enterprise with Cantor Shloimele brought in a profit of $4,000, four times the amount that had been raised in their previously most successful concert!
Source : Sara Ferdman Tauben
1908 Lovell's directory lists a synagogue at this address. The anniversary publication locates the building as being at St. Laurent and Lagauchetiere
Diaporama sur l'ancienne synagogue Beth Jehuda
Mis à jour le : 2-dec-16
© 2008 SHP - Société d'Histoire du Plateau-Mont-Royal