Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Boston College Buying 24-Acre Conservative Synagogue

Congregation Mishkan Tefila, whose 24-acre property in suburban Boston is one of the largest synagogue sites in Massachusetts, is selling its land and building to Boston College.

The Conservative synagogue in Newton had fallen into dire straits in recent years as its membership dwindled to about 300 members, and the congregation was forced to merge its weekday service and religious school with other area synagogues. Rabbi Leonard Gordon told JTA in an interview last month that the congregation was actively seeking buyers and likely needed to move and reinvent itself if it was to survive.

Built during the 1950s on land granted by the state, Mishkan Tefila occupies a highly desirable property in a wealthy Boston suburb adjacent to the upscale Chestnut Hill mall. The arrangement with the state mandated that the site be used for religious or educational purposes for 100 years, according to the Boston Globe, which first reported the story.

To start, Boston College, a Jesuit school, plans to use the largely wooded site for parking and administrative offices, the newspaper said.

The sales price was not disclosed, and synagogue leaders did not return calls from JTA seeking comment. The Globe story said the congregation will have until 2019 to vacate the site.

With a sanctuary that seats 800 and can open up to hold 2,000, Mishkan has been the site for many communitywide events and rallies over the years. The location has its drawbacks, however. It’s not within walking distance to the bulk of Newton’s Jews, and its relatively remote location and lack of sidewalks made it primarily a driving shul. Furthermore, with Newton’s high real estate prices a deterrent for young families seeking to buy homes, Mishkan lacked an influx of new blood to refresh its aging membership.

“We need to do something to secure a long-term future because there are not that many young families in the Newton area right now,” Gordon told JTA in an interview last month. “It might be possible to rebuild on a smaller footprint which is closer to the Jewish neighborhood in Newton.”

Dive In


Most Popular

In Case You Missed It




    NY-12 Candidate Forum


    Aug 10, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    Will the last Jew left in New York’s congressional delegation be reelected? Will New York’s senior congresswoman receive another term? Or will one of the newcomers upend Manhattan politics?

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit the Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, images, and credit to the Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

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