Jewish settlers in Easton antedated the
American Revolution. One, Myer Hart, was a founder of the town of Easton in 1750 and supplied
most of the funds for establishing Easton's first school. In 1800 Michael Hart (no relation)
deeded to his son, Jacob, a plot of ground on South Sixth Street for a Jewish burial place.
On August 26, 1839, Congregation Brith Sholom (Covenant of Peace) was founded. Solomon Rotha
and Michael Lederer were the prime movers in the work of creation. Membership was predominantly
of German origin; records and sermons were in German until the end of the century. The
congregation rented quarters for religious worship on the south side of Spring Garden Street,
between Third and Bank Streets. The Congregation prospered; on March 28, 1842, they had a grand
total of $121.31 and 1/4, and they agreed to build a new synagogue on Sixth Street, between Pine
On November 24, 1842, we were chartered as the Congregation Brith Solomon
and built a Temple on South Sixth Street in that year. Its façade was that of the great
Synagogue in Florence, Italy. Our Temple is the third oldest in Pennsylvania and the tenth
oldest in the United States.
The first generation used the Orthodox ritual, but in 1870, after a visit to Easton by Isaac
Mayer Wise, founder of the Reform movement in America, the "Minhag America" was
introduced. The Reform ritual has been followed ever since. The Congregation ranks as the 12th
earliest Reform Congregation in the country.
About the middle of the 19th century, the old cemetery was replaced by another between 12th
and 13th Streets at Washington and Butler Streets. Since 1889, a section of the Easton cemetery
has been reserved for burial of members of the Congregation.
The Synagogue on South Sixth Street was, until 1959, the oldest Synagogue in continuous use
(117 years) in the United States. The last service there was on November 20, 1959. In 1954, we
purchased land at 15th and Northampton Streets (the old Hay estate), and the structure there was
commenced under a building contract dated October 9, 1958, and signed by the then President, Dr.
Robert Stein, and then Secretary, Beatrice Davison. Groundbreaking took place on October 12,
1958. The Synagogue was dedicated on November 27, 1959, at an initial service conducted by Rabbi
Alexander Feinsilver with Rabbi Bernard Bamberger, then President of the Central Conference of
American Rabbis, as guest speaker. The cornerstone was ceremonially laid on Sunday, November 29,
The architect of this building was Daniel Schwartzman of New York who accepted the challenge
to build a small structure after he had built mammoth ones in Europe and this country. One
provision in the building contract was the following:
"it is agreed that no work is to be performed at the site on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath
or on days upon which the following Jewish holidays are observed by the owners: Passover (1st
and 7th days), Shavuoth, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Succoth (1st and 8th days)"