B'nai Reuben Synagogue

The Antiquarian's Delight. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania

615-621 South 6th Street

Currently an antique market, this building once housed Congregation Chevra B'nai Reuben, Anshe Sfard, the city's first Hassidic congregation. The congregation had traveled around the quarter since the 1880s, even meeting in Pennsylvania Hall for a number of years. It acquired this lot in 1904, and the building was completed in 1905. A crowd of 2,000 reportedly descended upon B'nai Rueben on the day of its dedication, clamoring to gain entry. The building is a rare freestanding synagogue in a densely packed row house district. Constructed in a Roman Baroque style, the facade bears elaborate stone-carved iconography, including Hebrew inscriptions, wreaths and cartouches. Congregation B'nai Reuben vacated the building in 1956 — a time when many Jews were moving out of South Philadelphia and the city altogether, migrating to the Northeast section of the city and to the northern and western suburbs.