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Our History

Congregation Albert is a Reform synagogue, established in 1897. The synagogue is the oldest Jewish organization of continued existence in the state.

Formation and early years

Congregation Albert was established as a synagogue in 1897. It was established by Alfred Grunsfeld (its first treasurer), Henry N. Jaffa (its first president; he was also the first Mayor of Albuquerque), and Berthold Spitz (he was also the city's Postmaster for 12 years), after discussions with 70 members of the first congregation in Albuquerque, the B’nai Brith Lodge No. 336, which had been formed in 1883.

The naming rights of the new synagogue were auctioned off. In 1897, the Grunsfeld family, winning the auction for $250 ($7,800 in current dollar terms), elected to name the synagogue after Alfred’s deceased father, Albert Grunsfeld, who had immigrated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, from Germany in the 1870s.

At the outset, the synagogue had 34 members and its religious services were held at the Knights of Pythias Hall on Gold Avenue in downtown Albuquerque. Half a year later, the synagogue moved to the Jolly Ten Hall located on Gold Avenue.

Congregation Albert advertised for a rabbi in The American Israelite. Its first Rabbi was Dr. William H. Greenburg of London, England, who served from 1898 to 1900 and held his first service for 50 members on March 18, 1898. Greenburg served in his initial two-year term for a salary of $125 per month ($3,900 in current dollar terms).

After its cornerstone was set on September 3, 1899, in April 1900 Congregation Albert's first building was dedicated on West Gold Avenue (at the northeast corner of its intersection with 7th Street), with an onion-shaped oriental dome, pitched roof, and twin staircases leading to a second-story entrance, and Rabbi Pizer Jacobs was installed as the second rabbi of the synagogue. In 1902, Jacob H. Kaplan became the Rabbi. Methodists were allowed to use the synagogue until their church was built in 1904. In 1919, the synagogue had 84 members and, after a dip during the Depression, in 1944 it had 87 members.

The synagogue is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism, having joined in 1921.

Rabbi David D. Shor served the congregation from 1948 to 1978, during which time he was tendered a lifetime contract in 1956. In 1951, Congregation Albert moved to a building on Lead, between Oak and Mulberry SE.

 

Recent history

At the time of the synagogue's 75th anniversary, a 600-copy limited edition Diamond Jubilee History entitled Congregation Albert, 1897–1972 by Professor Gunther Rothenberg, a University of New Mexico professor of European history and Jewish history, was printed. In 1975, the synagogue elected its first woman president, Ethel Cahn.

The synagogue was led by Rabbi Paul J. Citrin from 1978 to 1996. In 1984, Congregation Albert moved to its current location, at 3800 Louisiana Boulevard NE, just south of Montgomery.

The synagogue was led by Rabbi Joseph R. Black from 1996 to 2010.

Cantor Barbara Finn became the Cantor at Congregation Albert in June of 2004, and is still the Cantor of the congregation.

Harry L. Rosenfeld served as Congregation Albert's Rabbi from July 1, 2011 to Jun 30, 2021.

Rabbi Celia Surget began leading the synagogue on July 1, 2021, and is the current Rabbi at Congregation Albert.

Fri, February 3 2023 12 Sh'vat 5783