Temple Emanu-El

Upper East Side

Founded in 1845 as the first Reform synagogue in New York, this temple, completed in 1929, is now one of the largest Jewish houses of worship in the world. An imposing Romanesque structure, it is more than 175ft long and 100ft tall, with a brilliant, hand-painted ceiling featuring gold details. It is best to call ahead before visiting because the synagogue regularly closes for funerals and other events. Services (6pm Fridays and 10:30am Saturdays) are open to all.

The building also boasts 60 stained-glass windows and a massive rose window whose dozen panels represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Other stained-glass elements pay tribute to notable synagogues, including the Altneuschul in Prague (the oldest continually used Jewish house of worship in the world). The ark containing the Torah scrolls, on the eastern wall, is surrounded by a glittering glass-and-marble mosaic arch.

The temple is home to the small Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica (open 10am to 4pm Sunday to Thursday), with more than 650 pieces that date back to the 14th century.

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