Bernstein and Jewish Boston

A vintage illustration of Congregation Mishkan Tefila

Congregation Mishkan Tefila on Seaver Street in Boston, in the early 1900s.

Leonard Bernstein first encountered serious music at Boston's Congregation Mishkan Tefila, the family's synagogue.

Jonathan Sarna, University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, writes about the Bernstein family's Jewish community and the influence of Solomon Braslavsky, the music director and organist of Mishkan Tefila, whose influence on the young Bernstein was far greater than scholars have imagined.

In 1973 Bernstein wrote to Braslavsky, “[I] never forget the tremendous influence you and your music made on me when I was a youngster.”

For the complete story, read Sarna's essay, "Leonard Bernstein and the Boston Jewish Community of His Youth: The Influence of Solomon Braslavsky, Herman Rubenovitz, and Congregation Mishkan Tefila," in the Journal of the Society for American Music.