Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Century-Old Boston Synagogue Receives $500K For Preservation

BOSTON (JTA) – A century-old synagogue that serves as a Jewish cultural center will receive $500,000 from the city for historic preservation of the once-abandoned building that is now a landmark and tourist destination.

The restoration is important to the history of Boston’s immigration, according to Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim. “It tells a story through its walls, artifacts and location,” said Zakim, the son of the late Lenny Zakim, the prominent Jewish civil rights advocate who led the New England Anti-Defamation League for 15 years, until his death at age 46.

Dating back to 1919, the Vilna Shul, located at 18 Philips Street, is nestled in to the north slope of the city’s historic and affluent Beacon Hill, in what was once an immigrant enclave of tenements and in earlier times, a historic African-American neighborhood.

The Vilna, the last of the area’s 40 synagogues from the early twentieth century, was the religious home for Congregation Anshei Vilner, founded by Jews from Vilnius, in present-day Lithuania.

The building was eventually abandoned and structurally condemned in the mid-1980s. In 1995, a non-profit formed to reclaim the Vilna Shul was allowed to purchase the building and land at fair market value.

It has since been rejuvenated as a thriving Jewish cultural center with some 10,000 visitors annually, including participants in Jewish programs, tourists and school groups, Kessel told JTA

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.