On October 21, 1905, eighteen families in Virginia, Minnesota came together to establish a congregation, B’nai Abraham, Sons of Abraham. Five years later the congregation was able to erect a beautiful red brick synagogue adorned with stained glass windows on the corner of 5th Street South and 4th Avenue. The synagogue became the focus of life for the Jewish community. Besides being a Beth Tephillah, a House of Prayer where prayer services were held, it was a Beth Knesset, a House of Assembly where the community would gather for a variety of activities such as organization meetings, Passover Seders, programs, and bake sales. In addition, the building was a Beth Midrash, a House of Study where boys were taught to read from the Torah Scroll (The Five Books of Moses) in preparation for their Bar Mitzvah at age thirteen, and all children received a religious education.
Not surprisingly, when it came time to select a place to live, many of the congregants chose to be near the synagogue, which was also close to their shops. Unlike Minnesota’s major urban areas, and in particular Minneapolis prior to the 1950s, Range towns did not impose housing restrictions on its Jewish residents. As a result it is possible to find Jews residing throughout the city. However, based on names and addresses compiled from the 1900 to 1915 City Directories, First Street and Fourth Street appear to have had the most Jewish residents at the time the congregation was formed and the synagogue erected. Housing further east (the lower numbers) was modest as it was close to the railroad and a mining location. The quality of housing improves as one moves further west.
Many Jews, who initially resided on the east, would later move further west and south. This tour focuses on Jewish residences in the period prior to World War I when the community was experiencing growth and success.
- 107 First Street – Hyman and Jacob Finn, shoemakers. Business: 97 2nd Ave. W. (Parking lot) 115 First St.: Isadore Milavetz
- 211 First Street – Ben Milavetz (Post Office Parking Lot) 214 First St.: Joseph Roman
- 405 First Street – Harmen Nathanson (Masonic Temple) 415 First St.: Morris Shanedling
- 209 Second Street – Ralph Massinter
- 201 Fourth Street – Israel Kaner -‐ Business: 112 2nd Ave. W. 229 Fourth St.: Rev. Henry Kanter (empty lot)
- 316 Fourth Street – Rose and Lou Deutsch 322 Fourth St.: Sam Milavetz
- 332 Fourth Street – Adolph Keller (new house on lot) 407 Fourth St.: Max Simon (Duplex)
- 409 Fourth Street – David Kratzenstein 221 Sixth St.: Nathan Nathanson 307 Eighth St.: Rabbi Israel Cohen 552 Eighth St.: Bankman
- 322 Tenth Street – Sam and Evelyn Shanedling Cohen (first home)
- 204 Second Avenue – Jacob Litman, cleaner and residence
- 519 Second Avenue – Ostrov Grocery and residence 202 Fourth Ave.: Shanedling
- 614 Fifth Avenue – Sam and Evelyn Shanedling Cohen (second home)
- 638 Fifth Avenue – Gus and Jeanette Simon (1938?)