About our Sanctuary

The 88th Street Sanctuary building, in the Moorish Revival style, with elaborate, colorful mosaics and painting, was dedicated in 1918. The architects, Henry B. Herts Jr. and Walter S. Schneider, endeavored to embody in the structure the ancient spirit of Semitic art as found in the ornament of building ruins and graveyards in Israel, Egypt, and Spain. The exterior features an ornately carved main portal and weathered stone in a rich buff tone. The lobby design introduced a touch of blue in the marble base and in the glazed tiles bordering the floor. At either end of the lobby, stairs rise to the balcony and descend to the lower level, which originally held the Hebrew School.

The square main sanctuary, with a seating capacity of about 1,100, is intricately and richly ornamented in tones of blue, buff, red, and gold that freely interpret Coptic design with suggestions of Moorish and Persian sources. The rose window in the main portal is of just two colors, blue and golden yellow. The original side windows, which used the same color scheme, were replaced over the years by stained-glass panels representing Jewish stories and dedications in memory of B’nai Jeshurun members. The octagonal ceiling was perforated by a number of segmental arches and featured elaborate stalactites that were thrown into high relief by concealed lighting.

In May 1991, just a few years after Rabbi Meyer came to rejuvenate the congregation, the roof of the 88th Street building collapsed, bringing half a ton of plaster from the original ceiling onto the bimah and surrounding area. The timing was fortunate, for no one was in the building, and what could have been a major disaster was avoided. In 1996, renovations and repairs to the BJ sanctuary were completed, and the synagogue was rededicated. The original pews were removed to allow for multiple uses of the space, and a new ceiling with a gridlike structure that incorporates a programmable lighting system was installed. This new design maintains the feeling of the magnificent original while maximizing the flexibility of the space.

In 2010, BJ purchased the building directly behind it on 89th Street. This building, which was dedicated in 1928 as the B’nai Jeshurun Community Center, was sold to the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in the early 1980s. It originally included an auditorium, ballroom, chapel, classrooms, clubrooms, a women’s salon, and a library. The landmark reacquisition of the 89th Street building now allows BJ members and guests to pray and celebrate together on Shabbat.

Our Czech Memorial Torah

We are privileged to have Czech Memorial Torah Scroll #516, one of the 1,564 Czech Memorial Sifrei Torah looted by the Nazis from the desolated Jewish communities of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia during the 1939-1945 war.

Our Spaces

  • 88th Street Sanctuary: 3,600 sq ft, with access to Frankel Hall, kitchen, and coatroom. Maximum capacity of 700 people. Learn More
  • 88th Street Frankel Hall: 2,000 sq ft, with direct access to the kitchen and coatroom. Maximum capacity of 200 people. Learn More
  • 89th Street Reception Room: 1,300+ sq ft, maximum capacity of 150 people. Learn More
  • 89th Street Middle Room: 950 sq ft, maximum capacity of 90 people. Learn More
  • 89th Street Rabbi Rachel Cowan Chapel: Maximum capacity of approximately 130 people. Dedicated in memory of Rabbi Rachel Cowan. Learn More
  • 89th Street 3rd Floor Gym: 3,000+ sq ft, maximum capacity of approximately 310 people. Learn More
  • 89th Street 4th Floor Classrooms: Four available classrooms with a maximum capacity of 20 people each. Learn More
  • 89th Street Community House: Sanders-Gardner Teen Lounge (in memory of Katie Sanders and Lawrence Gardner), Community House (3rd Floor), and Community House (4th Floor). Learn More

Please click here to learn about renting our spaces.

Sanders-Gardner Teen Lounge was dedicated in memory of Katie Sanders and Lawrence Gardner on Sunday, September 15, 2019, honoring their legacy and their commitment to our youth. The space is home to the Teen Program.

Rabbi Rachel Cowan Chapel was dedicated in memory of Rabbi Rachel Cowan on Sunday, May 19, 2019, corresponding to the 14th day of Iyar 5779, the 29th Day of the Omer. The chapel is a place of prayer, meditation, study, reflection, community, and celebration, as we dedicate ourselves to continuing and expanding Rachel’s remarkable legacy.

Experience our Sacred Spaces