Just two blocks off bustling NE Alberta street, an unassuming building once known as the Alberta Shul holds a rich history of NE Portland Jews, African-American Churches and most recently artists.
From 1914 until 1952 the building was known as the Alberta Shul, and was the home of Congregation Tifereth Israel. When the synagogue outgrew the space and put it up for sale it received an offer to purchase from a growing local church. But when the congregation’s real estate agent learned that this was to be an African American church, he pressured them not to sell. This is their response.
“We regard such pressures as being violative of the principles of Americanism, of Judaism, of Christianity, and of common decency… To deprive any group of people the right to meet and to worship merely because God chose to make them a part of the colored majority of mankind is repulsive to Americans who love their country agnd the great principles of democracy […] In the event you refuse to close the sale, we desire to be released from our listing agreement so that we may ourselves consummate the moral agreement we have entered into.”
The sale went through, and the building has been home to communities of faith and arts groups ever since.
Preserving this building also means preserving powerful stories of Jewish activism and integrity.