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Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (KJ or CKJ) is a Modern Orthodox synagogue, located on East 85th Street on the Upper East Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The synagogue was founded in 1872.[1] The synagogue is closely affiliated with the Ramaz School. It shares a building with the lower school, and is across the street from the middle school.

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun
A light brown smooth stone building with two trees in front seen from across and slightly down the street. It has rounded arched windows and decorative moldings at the roofline.
Front elevation, 2008
AffiliationOrthodox Judaism
LocationUpper East Side, New York, NY, USA
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun

The name Ramaz derives from the initials of Rabbi Moses Zevulun Margolies (1851–1936), the grandfather-in-law of the school's founder, Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein (1902–1979). Rabbi Margolies served as the synagogue's rabbi from 1906 until his death in 1936.[2] Lookstein had served as the congregation's assistant rabbi after receiving his semicha in 1926 from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University, and had assumed many of the roles as congregational leader while his grandfather was ill for many years before his death, assuming the title of senior rabbi after his grandfather's death in 1936.[3] The current senior rabbi of the congregation, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, is the son of Joseph Lookstein and was a member of the first class of six students at Ramaz when the school was established in 1937. Haskel Lookstein was installed as assistant rabbi on June 14, 1958, serving under his father, and became Senior rabbi after his father's death in 1979.[4] Rabbi Elie Weinstock is another leader of the congregation.

In December 2008, it was reported that the congregation lost $3.5 million in the Bernard Madoff scandal.[5]

In July 2011, there was a four-alarm fire at the synagogue building on 85th Street; the fire, which started on the top floor and roof of the three-story building, caused the roof to collapse, and further damaged the building's stability. No one was killed, but five firefighters of the 170 who responded were injured; due to ongoing renovations, the congregation had been worshiping elsewhere, and no Sifrei Torah were damaged. The cause of the fire is unknown.[6]

In August 2015, the congregation announced that Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz would assume the role of senior rabbi as of January 1, 2016. As part of the transition, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein assumed the role of Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Elie Weinstock was granted the title of "Rabbi", and Rabbi Roy Feldman remained as Assistant Rabbi.[7]

Prominent membersEdit

The Congregation is known for members who are prominent businessmen and philanthropists, including George Rohr, film producer Steven Haft, author Lisa Birnbach, the New York real estate family Kushner (patriarch Joseph Kushner and his sons Murray Kushner and Charles Kushner) and Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism before she married Jared Kushner.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Mission Statement", Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun. Accessed October 14, 2015.
  2. ^ Staff. "Rabbi Margolies dies of pneumonia; Dean of Orthodox Synagogue Heads, 85, Zionist Leader and Jewish Educator. Founder of Relief Group Rose From Sickbed in 1933 to Address Meeting of Protest Against Anti-Semitism." (abstract), The New York Times, August 26, 1936. TimesMachine view of full article (subscription). Retrieved 2017-04-01. Accessed January 22, 2009.
  3. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang. 'Joseph H. Lookstein Dead at 76; A Rabbi and Orthodox Educator; Responsibilities Increased", The New York Times, July 15, 1979. Accessed January 21, 2009.
  4. ^ Staff. "Military Morale is linked to Faith; Rabbi Israel Miller Equates Worth of Man and Arms -Other Sabbath Sermons" (abstract), The New York Times, June 15, 1958. Accessed January 21, 2009.
  5. ^ "Madoff's Victim List". The Wall Street Journal. March 6, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  6. ^ Zraick, Karen (July 11, 2011). "Four-alarm fire ravages Manhattan synagogue". Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Heilman, Uriel. "For first time in 100 years, outsider tapped to lead Looksteins’ N.Y. shul", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 3, 2015. Accessed August 4, 2015. "The Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan's Upper East Side voted last week to hire as its new senior rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, who for two decades has led the Montreal congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, 83, who has been at the helm of Kehilath Jeshurun since the death of his father, Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, in 1979, will become rabbi emeritus.... When Steinmetz becomes senior rabbi, Associate Rabbi Elie Weinstock will become KJ's "rabbi"; rabbinic assistant Rabbi Roy Feldman will retain his role."

External linksEdit