This Modern Orthodox synagogue was built in 1913 to serve a community of Eastern European and Russian Jewish farmers. Like Congregation Anshei Israel in Lisbon, CT, Knesseth Israel is a fairly unusual example of a rural Connecticut synagogue. Designed by Leon Dobkin, it is a simple clapboarded wooden building in the Colonial Revival style with a gabled portico and hip roof. The congregation also has an Orthodox cemetery, located within the bounds of Ellington Cemetery.


  • Knesseth Israel Synagogue, 1913
    Knesseth Israel Synagogue, 1913

Congregation Knesseth Israel began in the early 20th century. Its early members were Yiddish-speaking Eastern European and Russian Jewish families who were primarily engaged in agriculture. During the congregation's first several years, members met in private homes.

By 1913, however, they had the funds to construct a small, simple synagogue. Julius and Molly Sugerman provided land, and New York City philanthropist Jacob Schiff donated $100 (equivalent to approximately $2500 in 2019) to the project. Knesseth Israel also received support from German business tycoon Baron Maurice de Hirsch. The Baron de Hirsch Fund, as well as its subsidiary the Jewish Agricultural Society, provided loans and financial backing to multiple communities of Jewish immigrants during this time.

Knesseth Israel Synagogue is a simple wood frame building with a hipped roof and a portico. Inside, it has a wrought iron balustrade, a unique feature among the historic synagogues of Connecticut. It was originally built at the intersection of Middle and Abbott Roads but in 1954 was moved to its current location on Pinney Street.


Ransom, David. "Historic Synagogues of Connecticut: Knesseth Israel Synagogue." NRHP Registration Form. June 06, 1994. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/95000862_text.

"Knesseth Israel Synagogue (1913)." Historic Buildings of Connecticut. Accessed January 07, 2019. http://historicbuildingsct.com/knesseth-israel-synagogue-1913/.