First Narayever
Early History Architecture Religion Social The Synagogue Today    

Historically, the First Narayever has been both a religious and social centre for its members. Initially, the members came from Galicia and found a place of familiarity and comfort at the First Narayever. Members were able to continue observing their Orthodox faith together with others from the same shtetlShtetl: small, close-knit village of Jews, usually in Eastern Europe.. The social aspect of the Synagogue, has therefore, always been a significant part of the First Narayever synagogue and continues to be so to this day.

The First Narayever Congregation has two committees dedicated to tasks of charity, supporting those in need. The HesedHesed / Chesed: goodness, well-meaning. Committee provides members of the congregation with support for administrative activities. For example, the Committee has managed the cemetery privileges, social networks within the congregation, ensuring that a minyanMinyan: In an Orthodox congregation, at least 10 men over the age of Bar Mitzvah (13) are required in order to form a congregation to begin services. This group is called a minyan. and supplies are available at shivasShiva: [literally, "seven"] mourning process where the immediate family members of the deceased gather and remain in a house together for seven days after the death. This intensive grieving period forces the bereaved to confront their feelings of loss, to remember the deceased and share memories. The customs observed during these seven days create an environment that is free of distraction so that the grievers can deal with their pain directly. Customs include refraining from forms of vanity (mirrors are covered; haircuts and shaving are forbidden) and pleasure (sexual relations as well as Torah study are prohibited). Mourners sit on low chairs and do not wear leather shoes to display their grief and humility. All distractions are removed: doors are kept unlocked so that the mourners do not need to host others; cooking, cleaning, serving, and other duties, including work and school, are not permitted. In fact, visitors are not allowed to initiate conversation with the mourners, but rather simply respond so that the mourners feel no obligation to engage in conversation. After the seven days, the mourners extinguish a candle that had been burning since the first day, and then take a walk outside together as a first step in transitioning back to regular daily life.    of shul members, as well as many other social functions that require a coordinated effort. The other charitable group, the Social Action Committee, is involved in initiatives such as maintaining an affiliation with seniors’ residences, helping the less fortunate within the greater community, participating in community programs, and developing supplemental programs to involve and enhance First Narayever members’ education and extracurricular interests. In addition, the Social Action Committee has been involved in aiding refugees fleeing persecution or violence in other countries.

The congregation also organizes community potluck ShabbatShabbat: the period between Friday at sundown and Saturday one hour after sundown in which Jews are required to refrain from all forms of work. dinners so that members can meet other members while sharing in the task of preparing the dinner.











The First Narayever Benevolent Association membership form, 1930
The First Narayever Benevolent Association membership form (1930)

First Narayever receipt book for membership dues and donations, c. 1948-49
First Narayever receipt book for membership dues and donations
(c. 1948-49)

Financial ledger for the First Narayever Benevolent Association, 1915
Financial ledger for the First Narayever Benevolent Association (1915)

Certificate of Award by the Yiskor Fund Campaign, 1954
Certificate of Award by the Yiskor Fund Campaign (1954)

Meeting notice for congregation members, September 7, 1958
Meeting notice for congregation members, (1958)


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