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A Brief History of The Jewish Center


The Princeton Jewish community first organized its own congregation in 1926, calling it Congregation B'nai Zion. Previously, the few Jews in Princeton attended services in Trenton, and for many years after 1926 their children continued to be educated in Trenton synagogues. The Sunday school was organized in 1944, at which time classes were begun in private homes. In 1947, following a significant post-war influx of Jews into the community, B'nai Zion hired its first rabbi, shared part-time with the newly established Hillel on the Princeton University campus.

In 1949, the rapidly expanding Jewish community felt that a more formal organizational structure was needed, and the result was The Jewish Center, which adopted its first constitution on December 11, 1949. Soon after a building was purchased on Olden Street. The congregation quickly outgrew the Olden Street building and purchased land at the current site on Nassau Street. The first building at 435 Nassau was completed in 1958. The Beit Am Building (currently used for Early Childhood and Religious School Classes) was acquired in the early 1970s. The main building was expaned in 1983 to house the current sanctuary, social hall and offices. An additional property was purchased in the 1990's, extending the center's property to Cedar Lane.

Our first full-time rabbi, Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, joined the congregation in 1955. Our first Cantor, Robert Freedman, was hired in 1982 and became full time in 1985. Our current rabbinic staff is Rabbi Adam Feldman, who joined the congregation in 2005, and Hazzan Joanna Dulkin, who joined the staff in 2013.

The congregation was not affiliated with any national Jewish movements until affiliating with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in 2002. Though we follow the rituals as practiced by the Conservative movement, we welcome members and guests whose Jewish beliefs and practices may differ from these and we welcome interfaith families.
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