The origin and development of this Congregation is not only instructive and interesting to the present members, but to all who have Judaism at heart. Instructive, because it shows what a strong will, coupled with the right religious spirit, may accomplish. Unfortunately, because of lack of space, the writer must confine himself solely to the principal points of this history and omit such that would be of interest.
In Simchath Torah in October of 1884 ten Hungarian Jews, who had but recently immigrated, met at the home of B. Kohn, 213 Maxwell Street, and concluded to organize a religious society. The following participated: B. Kohn, J. Feurlicht, S. Goodfriend, J. Grossman, S. Weil, Tobias, Weckur, Freund, Zimet and Stark. Mr. J. Feurlicht, who was elected temporary Chairman, called the first meeting on the 26th of October, whereby S. Weil served as temporary Secretary. Twelve others were enrolled as members soon afterward. The election of officers took place on the 1st of November, with the following results: Jacob Feurlicht, President; Abraham Frish, Vice-President; S. Weil, Recording Secretary; S. Goodfriend, Financial Secretary; P. Lang, Trustee; Mr. Stark, Trustee; Mr. Federgreen, Trustee.
A Sefer Torah was bought on installments of $10, paying a deposit of $20. In a hall on the corner of LaSalle and Adams streets a Siyum Sefer Torah was held at which a profit of $112 was netted. Rabbi Dr. Grossman officiated
The next elected President was Julius Newman, the present Rabbi of the "Montifiore Congregation" of this city. Following him came A. Edelman and Abraham Frish.
On March 3, 1885, the Congregation moved to 408 South Halsted street in a rented flat. The Congregation remained here until the Passover of 1888, at which time the membership had grown to eighty.
In April of the same year, an appointed committee bought the Baptist Church at 307 Maxwell Street for the sum of $7,000.to be converted into a Synagogue. Through the efforts of Mr. Louis Weber it was possible to secure a loan whereby the sale was brought about. To carry out the construction of the building a committee of the following members were appointed: J. Feurlicht, M. Weiss, Louis Weber, A. Edelman and Adolph Frish.
In the same year the "Sarah Lodge" gave a picnic, the proceeds of which were to benefit the Congregation. It resulted in a net profit of $110.
Besides the above mentioned, the following presidents served in succession: Louis Weber, M. Herskovits, Jacob Friedman, Nathan Ungar, Marcus Gross, Adolph Frish, S. Horowitz, and Moritz Newman. The following Vice-Presidents served: S. Goodfriend, D. Stern, M. Winkler, J. Rosenvasser, and M. Schwartz. As Secretaries the following: S. Herskovits, William Korach, S. Stern, N. Amster, Jacob Britenstein, D. Stern, Moritz Gross, Ignatz Levy, J.D. Weinrum, J. M. Zuckerman, R. Brown, and J. Feurczeig. D.M. Kraus served as sexton.
It was the great fortune of the Congregation to have as Trustees excellent workers. I would mention only Mr. Sig Schwartz, S. Rosenblum and H. Lindner.
A religious school was supported since the foundation of the society, its first teacher being A. Goldstein. Following him came Rabbi Bower, N. Amster, Moritz Newman, Ignatz Klein, Domb, Loewenstein, Jacob Klein and J.M. Weil.
In June of 1903 the Congregation secured the services of Rabbi M. Fisher, who arrived from Hungary, accompanied by his father Rabbi A. Fisher. The junior Rabbi was installed in office in the presence of a large gathering of members and invited guests. The prominent speakers were: Dr. E.B. Felsenthal, Rabbi A. Fisher, Dr. A.D. Weiner, E. Rubovits and Rabbi Brody.
Rabbi M. Fisher held his initial ovation, after which a banquet was tendered in the vestry rooms of the Synagogue, at which M. Newman was master of ceremonies.
In February 1905 deeming their present abode inadequate for their needs, the Congregation sold to The Beth Hamidrash Hagadol.
A building committee was appointed to find a suitable location and for the erection of a new Synagogue. This committee bought the site at the corner of Marshfield and Polk Streets for the sum of $10,250, and the architects, Eichberg & Klafter were engaged to draw plans for a $45,000 structure.
Since the Congregation had undertaken a severe task, namely the building of the most sumptuous Synagogue on the West Side, and as usual in such cases with insufficient means, the Ladies Auxiliary had therefore decided to have a bazaar, and devote their utmost energy towards making it a success. Especially the Bazaar Committee, headed by their Chairman, Mrs. H. J. Lindner, and ably seconded by the vice-chairman, Mrs. E. Horowitz, are straining every effort to make it a success.
The President of the society, Mrs. H. Salmon, uses every opportunity to further the success of the Bazaar. But the crowning efforts were put forth by the influential members of the Ladies Society, who are collecting goods and cash to help the noble cause.
At the dedication of the new Temple the conclusion of this history will follow.
The Ladies' Society of the First Hungarian Congregation Agudath Achim was organized in January 1897, its purpose being to financially aid the congregation. An undertaking of this kind is but rarely met within an orthodox community, nevertheless, the material aid rendered the congregation has exceeded even the most optimistic.
The first meeting was held in the vestry rooms of the Synagogue, 307 Maxwell Street, which was presided over by Mrs. T. Frish. A constitution was drawn up and Mrs. Frish was elected first president of the society. The membership, which was but forty at the start, grew to fifty five. That the good work rendered the society by Mrs. Frish was appreciated was shown, since she thrice filled the presidential chair. No better tribute could be paid to her by the society.
The second president, Mrs. S. Weinwurm, served two terms. Her good work was manifest by a gradual increase in membership. That she had the welfare of the society at heart is conceded by all.
Mrs. H., Unger, who also served two terms, was the next president. During her administration the society was placed on a firm footing. Various sums were donated to the congregation, besides doing acts of benevolence. The work of Mrs. Unger is destined to remain in the recollections of the members of the society.
The greatest strides which the society has yet taken occurred during the presidency of Mrs. R., Salmon, the present official. She is now serving her second term, with every prospect of a successful ending. Her work was manifest in an increased membership, and still more are forthcoming. Her present aim is to make the bazaar the crowning effort, and how well she is succeeding is easily judged.
Not alone are the presidents responsible for the good works of the society; each and every member has done more for the welfare of the society than could be expected. Sacrifice after sacrifice was demanded again and again, and it is astonishing with what readiness they were forthcoming.