This historic synagogue was built during the 1930s to replace an earlier synagogue in Stamford that was destroyed in a fire. The congregation's history stretches back to 1889, when 22 founding members first took steps to organize a community of faith. The phrase Agudath Sholom may be translated as knot for peace or society for peace. Stamford's Jewish community is part of a larger story of Jewish immigration to the United States and specifically to Connecticut. Agudath Sholom arose from an influx of Eastern European Jews to Stamford during the 1880s, where they congregated in large enough numbers to develop a thriving community.
In 1965, the growing congregation moved to a new synagogue in the city, and the Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church moved into the former synagogue building.
Early Jewish History in ConnecticutJewish history in Connecticut begins with the early colonization of the state. Initially, Jewish newcomers were from Spain or Portugal, though they arrived in small numbers and did not establish large communities.As of 1818, there were fewer than a dozen known Jewish people living in Connecticut. There were therefore not enough people to form a distinct Jewish community. Moreover, Jewish public worship was not yet legal. Only in 1843 did the Connecticut General Assembly decree that Jews who may desire to unite and form religious societies, shall have the same rights, powers and privileges which are given to Christians of every denomination (quoted in Ransom, 3). 19th Century: A Time of Jewish ImmigrationJewish populations grew and communities formed during 19th century with the arrival of Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe. German Jews came first, seeking an escape from the inflexible Prussian social structure which granted little upward mobility. The United States seemed like a land of opportunity and freedom in comparison. However, their populations in Connecticut also remained small, and as a result many preferred to assimilate into broader society rather than create a distinctly Jewish community.Eastern European Jews moved to Stamford and other areas in Connecticut during the 1880s, many of them moving away from crowded conditions in New York City. Many carved out a livelihood peddling wares from house to house. Often, these enterprising salespeople were young single men who rented a room in the house of one of the few Jewish families living in Stamford. Gradually, the Jewish community expanded.Early Jewish congregations were very small and had modest budgets. Worship was often held in rented rooms, homes, or repurposed churches that they were able to acquire. Examples of churches that were converted into synagogues include: