Much of this material was published in 1992, in recognition of the 90th anniversary of Congregation Tifereth Israel. Material is also included from the 1978 celebration of the 75th Anniversary. Original materials from 1902 through 1914 have also been consulted.The Beginnings
The mid-to late 1800s forged America's melting pot," welcoming immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Lithuania and Russia.Congregation organized
Beginning in the 1800s, over two million of these hopeful pilgrims were Jews from Eastern Europe. Most remained in the cities, where the bright colors of the American Dream often faded under grinding gray poverty.
Some were determined to find a better way. Many headed west; a few came east, to rural Long Island. Those first hardy souls struck out along the roads and railroad tracks of the island peddling such items as needles and thread, ribbons and combs. Eventually they found a spot to their liking and settled down.
One of these places was Greenport. There is no record of exactly when the first Jewish immigrants came to the village, but it is known several families lived here before 1880. The heads of the households: Nathan Kaplan, G. Merzbach, Morris Appelt, Herman Sandman, William Smith and Louis Jaeger.
Apparently there were no organized services - no congregation, no temple, no home services.
Between 1880 and 1890 several more Jewish families arrived in Greenport and went into various business ventures. When that trend continued into the century's last decade, the time was right for area Jews to begin gathering for worship.
The first service was held during the High Holy Days of 1892 in the home of Lazar Kobre. Later, regular services were held in the home of Fanny Levine.
In 1900, a small group of men assembled in the home of Nathan Goldin to organize the Jewish families of Greenport into a formal congregation. Samuel Levine, in a history of the first 50 years of Temple Tifereth Israel, wrote,"… their assets were mainly faith, as they were certainly poor in worldly possessions."
Records indicate the following were present at that first meeting: Joseph Pushkin, Morris Levin, Isaac Kaplan, Abraham Kaplan, Joseph Brown, Nathan Goldin, Samuel Bluemthal, Jacob A. Schless, Samuel Levine, Michael Ballan and Zelig Beck.
Abraham Kaplan chaired the meeting. The group decided on the name Tifereth Israel Anshaei Greenport and the following officers were elected: Joseph Pushkin, President; Morris Levin, Vice President; Nathan Goldin, Treasurer; Jacob A. Schless, Secretary; Joseph Brown, First Trustee; Samuel Blumenthal, Second Trustee; Samuel Levine, Third Trustee; and Michael Ballen, Fourth Trustee. Dues were set at $6.00 per year payable by Yom Kippur.