This Twitter Bot Maps Current NYC Locations of Long Gone Synagogues

Posted on: August 18th, 2021 at 5:00 am by

While the Lower East Side could be considered the geographic soul of American Judaism, there isn’t much to show for it these days. Nevertheless, much of those roots remain rather visible.

Indeed, walking the neighborhood streets, it’s commonplace to see old synagogues repurposed in different ways. From multimillion-dollar condo conversions to upscale event halls. To stop and think is to dwell with these ghosts.

And that’s precisely what This Used to be a Synagogue accomplishes. It’s a Twitter bot that collects Manhattan addresses of places where Jewish organizations once congregated, but are now footnotes in history. The automated account maps an address – using the Ackman & Ziff Synagogue List from the Center of Jewish History – and pairs it with a Google Street View image.

Not surprisingly, most of the focus is on the LES. What is surprising, nay impressive, is that the technology was developed by a twenty-year-old undergraduate student at the University of Texas named Amy Shreeve.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Shreeve, a history major, started the Twitter endeavor as an academic project in “commemorative geography,” which is the study of memory and location.

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