Union Temple
(Reform Jewish)

17 Eastern Parkway at Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, New York  11238
http://www.uniontemple.org

Organ Specifications:
• II/33 Saville Organ Company electronic (1969)
• II/ Berkshire Organ Company – second-hand?
II/15 M.P. Möller, Op. 4394 (1925)


As the first Jewish congregation established in Brooklyn and Long Island, Union Temple has a long and proud history of service to the Jewish community, and to the Brooklyn community at large. Officially founded in 1848, the congregation originated in what was known as the Village of Williamsburgh, one of a number of principalities that at the time comprised what we now know as the Borough of Brooklyn. The congregants designated as their first synagogue the home of Moses Kessel on North Second Avenue, now known as Marcy Avenue. They named the synagogue Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim and the congregation worshiped according to Orthodox ritual.

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (Keap Street Temple) - Brooklyn, N.Y. (Brooklyn Public LIbrary, Brooklyn Collection)  
The Keap Street Temple  
In 1860 the congregation purchased and remodeled a church building on South First Street, and subsequently opened a Day School. The Day School offered elementary education in English and German, and included both secular and religious subjects. The school closed when free public education was instituted in Brooklyn.

Soon K.K. Beth Elohim had outgrown its building, and a new synagogue was built on Keap Street in 1876. For many years it was the largest synagogue in Brooklyn, acquiring the nickname of The Keap Street Temple.

  Temple Israel - Brooklyn, N.Y. (Brooklyn Public LIbrary, Brooklyn Collection)
  Temple Israel
While K.K. Beth Elohim was growing, a number of Jews in central Brooklyn established a congregation in keeping with the Reform Movement, brought to America by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise. This congregation was founded in 1869, and incorporated in the following year as Temple Israel. Services were held in the Y.M.C.A. building on the corner of Fulton Street and Galatin Place until 1872, when the congregation purchased a former church building on Greene Avenue. In 1891 the congregation consecrated its magnificent new building on the corner of Bedford and Lafayette Avenues, and several years later, added a second building for school and youth activities.

As Temple Israel grew in size and stature, K.K. Beth Elohim continued to flourish as well, eventually adopting the reforms introduced into American Jewry by Isaac Mayer Wise. Both congregations had prominent and active memberships. They were active in all areas of communal endeavor, and created various agencies of Jewish philanthropy in Brooklyn, such as the Hebrew Orphan Asylum; the Jewish Hospital; the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities; the Hebrew Educational Society; the Hebrew Free Loan Society; and the Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society.

Proposed Union Temple - Brooklyn, N.Y. (Brooklyn Public LIbrary, Brooklyn Collection)  
Union Temple (not built)
and Community House
 
In 1921, Temple Israel and K.K. Beth Elohim decided to merge into single Reform congregation, and incorporated into what is now known as Union Temple of Brooklyn. By that time, the center of Brooklyn Jewry had shifted away from Williamsburgh, and moved westward toward Flatbush. The newly merged congregation decided to build a new home at 17 Eastern Parkway. The eleven-story community house was dedicated on the eve of Sukkot in 1929. Once the community house was dedicated, a grand-scale sanctuary had been planned for the corner of Eastern Parkway and Plaza Street. Unfortunately the stock market crash in 1929 scuttled those plans, and a parking lot for use by temple members was built instead. Worship took place within the Community House, and during the High Holy Days the congregation worshiped at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 1942, a theater on the lobby level of the Community House was converted into a sanctuary, modeled after the synagogue in Essen, Germany, which had been burned by the Nazis.

The temple is situated in a prime location in Brooklyn. Across the street are the Brooklyn Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
               
Saville Organ Company
Chicago, Ill. (1969)
Analog tonal production
2 manuals, 33 stops


An electronic instrument manufactured by the Saville Organ Company of Chicago was installed in 1969.
             
Berkshire Organ Co., Inc.
West Springfield, Mass.
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals


At some point, an organ built by the Berkshire Organ Co. was installed. It may be that this organ was acquired second-hand, or that Berkshire rebuilt the Möller organ. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
               
M. P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Opus 4394 (1925)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 25 stops, 15 ranks


The first organ in the present Union Temple was built by the M.P. Möller Company of Hagerstown, Md. Möller provided a detached two-manual stop key console, and the entire organ was on 5" wind pressure. The Factory Specification (June 12, 1925) shows that the organ was to be completed by May 1st, 1926.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Open Diapason
61
4
  Dulciana [ext.]
8
  Dulciana
73
4
  Flute [ext.]
8
  Melodia
73
8
  Tuba
73
8
  Doppel Flute
73
   
Tremulant
8
  Gamba
73
   
Chimes
preparation

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon [unit]
97
4
  Salicet [Salicional]
8
  Open Diapason
73
2 2/3
  Quint [Bourdon]
8
  Stopped Diapason [Bourdon]
2
  Flautina [Bourdon]
8
  Salicional
73
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
73
8
  Vox Humana [sep. swell box]
61
8
  Vox Celeste [TC]
61
    Tremulant  
8
  Aeoline
73
   
Harp
preparation
4
  Orchestral Flute [Bourdon]
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Bourdon [large scale]
32
8
  Flute
SW
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
SW
8
  Violoncello [Gamba]
GT
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8'       Great 16', 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'       Swell 16', 4', Unison Separation
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'          
               
Adjustable Combinations
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 affecting Great and Pedal stops
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 affecting Swell and Pedal stops
    Pistons No. 1-2-3 affecting Full Organ
               
Pedal Movements
    Great to Pedal Reversible    
    Balanced Swell Pedal    
    Balanced Great Pedal      
    Grand Crescendo Pedal [with indicator]      
               
Sources:
     Trupiano, Larry. Factory Specifications of M.P. Möller organ, Op. 4394 (1925).
     Union Temple web site: http://www.uniontemple.org

Illustrations:
     Brooklyn Daily Eagle postcards from Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection. Images of Keap Street Temple, Temple Israel, and Union Temple.