Compiled by Eugene Krauss, Former President
Our Congregation, Congregation Etz Chaim of Flatbush, was organized on December 18, 1923. It's not clear at what location we were originally conducting services, but by June 13, 1924 we had reached sufficient size, regular minyanim, and permanency to file a Certificate of Incorporation. There were seven original incorporators (temporary Trustees) listed on our Certificate until the first annual meeting of the corporation, which was held in May 1925. The following are the seven original founders/incorporators of our Congregation: Max Gureasko, B. Hertzberg, Samuel Rabinowitz, Louis Rubenstein, Samuel Engel, Jacob W. Eneman, and M. Greenberg. The initial objects and purposes of the Religious Corporation were "To establish and maintain a synagogue wherein the members thereof shall congregate for the purpose of divine worship and religious observances in accordance with the doctrines and precepts of the Jewish faith; to hold meetings in connection with the business of the synagogue." The Constitution & By-Laws made clear that "the manner of religious services, prayers and customs [are to be] conducted according to Orthodox ritual (Ashkenazi), as specified in the Shulchan Aruch." After 1957 these purposes were expanded to include the education of Jewish youth at a Hebrew day school located in a new building constructed at the end of that year, which is adjacent to the main synagogue building.
The early years of our Congregation were spent purchasing real property. At least 3 Lots on the east side of East 13th Street between Kings Highway & Avenue P with residential homes on them, and 1 lot on the West side of East 13th Street with a residential home on it, were purchased by the Shul. The home at 1624 E 13th St was used as the residence for our Shammos downstairs, & a full-time Superintendent upstairs. The home at 1651-1653 East 13th Street, presently the paved school yard, was used as the home of our Rabbi, and the homes at 1643 & 1647 East 13th Street were demolished to make way for the present day main synagogue building built in their place. The remainder of the 2 lots other than the home of our Rabbi stayed vacant until December 1957 when a new building was constructed, and dedicated in January 1958. The purpose of the new building was to house our Hebrew day school, a small synagogue, two offices - one for receipt of donations and mail and the other for the use of our Rabbi, and a small kiddush room. The school building was connected to the Main Synagogue building on the first and basement floors. Two beautiful Halls and Kitchens for various simchas and other affairs were constructed in the basement level, and are presently still available for rental, or use for various Jewish religious functions. Eventually the position of Rabbi became vacant, and the house used by the former Rabbi was demolished. The vacant land was paved for use as the gated Hebrew day school's exercise yard, and for the Synagogue's Succah on Succos of each year.
In its heyday the Congregation employed renowned Rabbis and Cantors, had active working Committees, an Annual Bazaar at which merchandise was donated & sold, a Men's Club, a Sisterhood, a Chevra Mishnayos, and an Annual Melave Malka. Close to 300 worshipers packed the Main Synagogue during the High Holidays in those days. We look forward to the 100th Anniversary of our founding and continuous daily minynim to be celebrated from December 2023 through June 2024.