In the Oct. 11 issue, travel writer Hilary Larson profiled New Bedford, Mass., in her story “One Whale Of A Town.” I am one of the two rabbis in New Bedford, and it is too bad that Ms. Larson did not contact me about the Jewish history of New Bedford. I have done extensive research using the documentary record of the Jewish community. These documents explain the objectives of the immigrant Jewish community and what European rabbis were doing in the city and beyond to strengthen Judaism.
Also, the Ahavath Achim synagogue building is up for sale, but the Orthodox synagogue continues under a new name, Orthodox Chavurah Minyan of New Bedford. In the mid-19th century, Sephardic Jews from Newport, R.I., came to New Bedford because they were involved in the whaling industry. They prayed in people’s homes. They are buried in a special Jewish section of a city cemetery in New Bedford that is maintained by the Jewish community.
The main immigration came in the mid-1880s with the arrival of Jews from Lithuania and White Russia. In 1892, they established the Ahavath Achim synagogue on Howland Street in the south end and in 1897, the Chesed Shel Emeth synagogue on Kenyon Street in the north end.
New Bedford, Mass.