Episode: 3

Life In Bensonhurst

1920-1939

Episode 3: LIFE IN BENSONHURST (1920-1939) covers the move to Bensonhurst Brooklyn, and life on Bay Parkway. It includes the building of Magen David Synagogue, the first Syrian synagogue on American soil, and the Talmud Torah, led by the great Rabbi Matloub Abadi. We hear about the Ahi Ezer synagogue built by the Damascus community – and how the two communities, divided in Syria, became united as one in the United States. This episode includes the arrival of Chief Rabbi Jacob Kassin in 1933, and the Great Depression, when, through their religion and tradition of charity, the community supported each other through the hardships of that time. The film ends with the Edict of 1935, preserving the community’s cohesiveness for generations to come.

RELATED EPISODES

Episode 2: COMING TO AMERICA

(1900-1919) 

Episode 2: COMING TO AMERICA begins in the early 20th century and charts the arrival of Syrian Jews in America. It includes the harrowing boat trip overseas, Ellis Island, and life on the Lower East Side – how the first immigrants worked as peddlers, established their first synagogue, the first Syrian-Jewish stores, restaurants and businesses, as well as institutions such as the burial society and the charitable organization, Maoz Laebyon. We introduce Isaac Shalom, the first great community leader. And we hear how the community faced anti-Syrian sentiment, and preserved their values and customs in the face of assimilation.

Episode 4: THE WAR YEARS

(1939 – 1945)

Episode 4: THE WAR YEARS explores the community’s participation in World War II. It tells the stories of the brave men who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, of civilian service, and how community men and women worked hard on the home front, raising money for war bonds, patrolling the coastline and publishing the Victory Bulletin, an extraordinary document of the community’s wartime experience. We hear Chief Rabbi Jacob Kassin call the community to prayer on D-Day, remember the men who lost their lives, and feel the excitement of the war’s end, when servicemen come home, get married and begin their lives again.

Episode 5: A COMMUNITY GROWS IN BROOKLYN

(1945 – 1965)

Episode 5: A COMMUNITY GROWS IN BROOKLYN tells the story of the community’s postwar boom in the 1950s, including the move to Ocean Parkway. It introduces new religious and educational leaders, including Hacham Baruch Ben Haim, Rabbi Abraham Hecht, and Isaac Shalom. The film chronicles the building of the Magen David Community Center, Magen David Yeshiva, and Shaare Zion Synagogue. This episode also explores the cooperative spirit of the Syrian businessmen, supporting each other’s success in the U.S. and the Far East. It celebrates the heyday of Bradley Beach, where the community gathered in the summers, and honors women’s roles in preserving traditions and holding families together. 

SYRIAN JEWISH HISTORY TIMELINE

  • Biblical Times
  • 950 BCE
  • 630s
  • 929
  • 1375
  • 1400s
  • 1492
  • 1527
  • 1565 c.
  • 1665
  • 1732
  • 1760 c.
  • 1840
  • 1869
  • 1892
  • 1909
  • 1911-1912
  • 1918
  • 1930s
  • 1935
  • 1944
  • 1945
  • 1946
  • 1947
  • 1948
  • 1949
  • 1950
  • 1951
  • 1956
  • 1956
  • 1957
  • 1958
  • 1964
  • 1965
  • 1967
  • 1972
  • 1974
  • 1975
  • 1975
  • 1980s
  • 1988
  • 1992
  • 1994