History of Brothers of Joseph
The history of the Congregation Brothers of Joseph Synagogue goes back to the year 1883. That is when a group of primarily eastern European Jews who lived in Norwich organized a religious congregation, calling themselves the Congregation of Norwich. The same year saw the formation of a Burial Society by the Congregation of Norwich, with land for a cemetery purchased at Brewsters Neck in Preston, adjacent to that of the First Hebrew Society.
In 1886, the members participated in a bid on a permanent name for the congregation. In the resulting auction, Mr. Kive Lahn was high bidder: the name Brothers of Joseph was designated in honor of Kives son, Joseph, born that very week. In 1886 the Congregation adopted its first constitution. This constitution remained in effect until 1954, when a new constitution was adopted.
Services were held in a building on Cove Street and between 1884 and 1898 and in various buildings throughout the city such as T.A.B. Hall, Germania Hall and Lucas Hall. With a substantial donation from the Reverend Fromenson, the congregation built their own synagogue on the West side, which opened in 1898. In 1909, Rabbi Joseph Rosenberg came to Norwich and became the first Rabbi of the synagogue. He was such an outstanding personality that Norwich soon became recognized as a prominent center for Judaism. In 1914, the Norwich Hebrew Institute was organized. Classes were held in various buildings throughout the city until 1924, when the Institute moved to Fairmount Street. In 1953, the Norwich Hebrew Ladies Society reorganized as the Brothers of Joseph Sisterhood to be known as Rachel Leah Sisterhood, named after the mother of Jacob Slosberg. In the early 1950s, a mens club was also organized. In 1960, the High Street Synagogue, which was founded in 1906, voted to merge with the Congregation Brothers of Joseph on the West side.
The present synagogue, on the corner of Washington and Broad Streets, was built in 1966 on the former Osgood property. It is a unique modern architecture that exhibits the familiar Star of David to the heavens above. In addition to a modern sanctuary, the building includes a large hall, stage and two professional kitchens. Today, the congregation continues smaller in size but strong in spirit. We welcome in friendship all who wish to observe traditional Judaism in a modern setting.