Bound Brook and the Jewish community
Bound Brook has the oldest known Jewish community in all of New Jersey.
Aaron Louzada, a merchant and shopkeeper, was the first Jew to settle in New Jersey, establishing his family in Bound Brook in 1698. He built the third house in town, and soon after purchased 877 acres of land (the Codrington homestead), which was the basis for much of modern Bound Brook. He was known for his generous contributions to Jewish communal causes in New York and New Jersey.
Louzada’s son (Aaron Louzada II) and brother Moses were large landowners and leading citizens of Bound Brook, operating a grist mill and a general store, and contributing to the erection of a Lutheran church. A letter from Hannah Louzada, Moses’ widow, is in the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society.
In the late 1800’s, the Jewish Agricultural Society developed a network of flourishing Jewish farms and industrial communities. One of these was in Bound Brook.
Through the mid-20th century, Bound Brook had a flourishing Jewish community, including local business owners, who were members of CKI.
Knesseth Israel’s history
About 1920, when there were enough Jewish men in Bound Brook to have a regular minyan and form a congregation, they formed “The Jacob H. Schiff Congregation”, named after a prominent Jewish philanthropist who was recently deceased. Services were originally held in the Ivy Hook & Ladder building, then in the Congregational Church. By 1923, the Women’s Social Circle had raised enough money for a down-payment toward the purchase of the property and an existing house at 229 Mountain Avenue.
The congregation celebrated its first Bas Mitzvah in 1939, and hired their first full-time Rabbi in 1943. In 1953 the Congregation adopted two new names: the Bound Brook Jewish Center and Knesseth Israel.
Construction of a new building on the property was begun in 1954, and due to the efforts of Lou and Tom Sudzin and Sid Edelberg, it was completed in time for dedication in 1955. The new larger, building provided the congregation the opportunity to hold many religious and social functions within its walls.
The front section of the building was added in the early 1980’s, with a small chapel, new offices for the Rabbi and temple administrator, youth lounge, and additional restrooms.
More details of our history can be found on this timeline.