In the early 20th century, Livingston Manor was a community of farms, bowling pins, tanning, and acid factories. Max Schwartz was the first Jewish Settler followed by a wave of Jewish families that became merchants and shop owners. They overcame local resistance and antisemitism by being good neighbors and significant contributors to community life.
Agudas Achim (Gathering of Brothers) was organized in 1913 as a community burial society. In 1924 construction of the Schul on this site was begun. Working with his son Isaac, Max Brooks designed and built the building based on Max’s memory of the synagogues in the Eastern Poland of his youth. The synagogue opened for worship in 1925. The diverse Jewish community merged into a single congregation. Though Agudas Achim’s early members were not strongly observant, the religious practices in the synagogue were strictly orthodox.
By the late 1960s, the O&W Railroadceased to service Livingston Manor. Businesses started to close. The local Jewish population declined. The remaining Jewish community continued to hold High Holiday services,the building was closed the rest of the year.
Early in the 1980’s several young people from Livingston Manor’s long-time Jewish families and some new to the community sought to enrich and enliven their Jewish presence here. With their guidance and that of the elder members of the Jewish community, Agudas Achim was reconstituted as a reform congregation with a deep respect for tradition.
Regular monthly Sabbath services and holiday celebrations have been added to the High Holy Day worship, attracting people from all over the Hudson Valley. After the onset of the 2020 pandemic, virtual services were added, allowing members and non-members to enjoy the warmth and spirit of Agudas Achim from anywhere in the world.
For more information visit congregationagudasachim.org
Erected 2023 by Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, Congregation Agudas Achim, Borscht Belt Historical Marker Project.