History of the Shul

Fort Tryon Jewish Center was founded in 1938 by a diverse group of people  who included long-time neighborhood residents and recent Jewish immigrants escaping the maelstrom in Europe.

FTJC never affiliated with any denomination; it was and remains an independent congregation, proud to be a religious home for people of various Jewish backgrounds.

The congregation’s first home was a small facility in the basement of a commercial establishment on Fort Washington Avenue and 187th Street in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. In 1950, FTJC acquired the land on which its present building now stands and built its facility, from the ground up, in two stages: a modest building on Fort Washington Avenue, followed in 1960 by a magnificent sanctuary and ballroom, cantilevered over Overlook Terrace.

The late 1950s saw an infusion of new membership, this time made up of people who had escaped from Eastern Europe following the Hungarian revolt against the USSR. In the mid-1960s, the congregation grew again as Temple Beth Sholom, another neighborhood synagogue, merged with FTJC.

Membership and finances both declined steeply during the 1980s and 1990s, as the generation following the one that founded and built FTJC moved away from the neighborhood. Then, in April 2007, the congregation voted to establish gender egalitarianism.

Our commitment to spirited Hebrew prayer and social inclusion has brought remarkable growth in the past few years. A large portion of the membership now consists of young, growing families whose important lifecycle events, from bris to bnai mitzvot, bring excitement to the whole congregation.

In 2008, FTJC began a major renovation of its home building at 524 Fort Washington Avenue. While this work is being completed, we meet for most services in the Founders Hall of Mother Cabrini High School, located at 701 Fort Washington Avenue, just north of 190th Street.