The Jewish Community in Providence


The Jewish Community in Providence


Congregation of the Sons of Israel and David Cemetery sits near the Pond, at 460 Reservoir Avenue. Why is it there? What is the Jewish history of the site?


Lucy Boltz


The Jewish community in Rhode Island has a varied history reaching back to 1658 when Sephardic Jews came from Barbados to Providence after hearing of Roger Williams’ commitment to religious tolerance. While this community eventually declined by the early 1800s, a new Jewish immigrant wave came by the 1840s from Germany followed by a mainly Russian and Eastern European Jewish migration during the 1880s and continuing into the 1900s. This Jewish community has largely moved out of the urban area of the South Side, of Mashapaug Pond area to suburbs or the East Side of Providence paralleling financial advancement. The Jewish community remains active through the Jewish Community Center on Sessions Avenue and a number of synagogues on the East Side, but their presence in the South Side has dwindles- reflected in the current decision of how to deal with the abandoned temple on Broad Street, once a pride of the community. In response to an article about the abandoned synagogue, George M. Goodwin, an editor of the Jewish Historical Notes thought it fitting that the synagogue moved with the community: “Given the migration of Jews from the former North End and South Providence to the East Side after World War II, it was inevitable that Sons of Israel and David, known casually as Temple Beth-El, would relocate closer to its members.” He defended the community against “Mr. Brussat’s suggestion that Congregation Sons of Israel and David, founded in 1854, is in decline or in senescence is foolish,” by asserting that the community still thrives, though not in the South Side.

[see attached file for further research and bibliography]




Lucy Boltz, “The Jewish Community in Providence,” Reservoir of Memories, accessed September 23, 2020,