BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The Greenwich Village Synagogue a.k.a. Congregation Darech Amuno a.k.a. the Charles Street Synagogue is currently closed for ongoing work, according to its Web site.
One afternoon last weekend, Josh Gitta, 27 — while on break from his job as a server around the corner at French restaurant Bobo — sat on the house of worship’s front steps while penning some rap lyrics. He had a book along with him that he was reading, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Children of Hurin.”
“This is nice, you know,” the young Brooklyn songwriter said of the tranquil setting.
“It’s the first time tape is up,” he noted.
According to its Web site, the traditional synagogue stands on what was formerly Van Nest Place, the southern border of an old Dutch farm that ran down to the Hudson River. A former brownstone, the building was converted into a house of worship over a five-year stretch from 1912 to 1917, when it opened for services as the new home of Congregation Darech Amuno (“pathway to faith”).
Founded in 1838, the congregation pioneered the free burial of indigent Jews — 1865 marking the first interment in its Bayside, Queens, cemetery, Mokom Shalom, a function later assumed by the Hebrew Free Burial Society.
After World War II, European refugees, including some survivors of German concentration camps, enlarged the congregation’s membership. One of them, Nathan Steiman, owed his survival to Oscar Schindler. Steiman’s son Michael regularly recites prayers at the synagogue each Sabbath.
Herman Lowenhar, the synagogue’s longtime president, died at age 86 in September 2020. A music lover, under him, the synagogue famously became known for hosting rousing bluegrass and jazz concerts. Lowenhar, whose roots were in the Village’s beatnik scene, served bourbon and slivovitz for the crowd.