Congregation Tifereth Israel

109-18 54th Avenue
Crescent L. Varrone

This modest, wood-framed building is considered the oldest surviving synagogue in Queens. Its congregation was formed in 1906 or ‘07 and formally incorporated in 1911 as the Home Street Synagogue (its original name). Many early members were recent immigrant Ashkenazi from Eastern Europe moving from the overpopulated Lower East Side. One of these was the young Josephine Esther Mentzer, a Corona resident who became the cosmetics entrepreneur Estée Lauder. Architecturally the building is reminiscent of small synagogues of the Lower East Side, which had to conform to narrow lot sizes meant for tenements. Its façade, with Gothic and Moorish elements, was restored in 2011-12. The complex eventually included a mikveh (ritual bath), yeshiva (Talmudic school) and cemetery. The yeshiva, located a block away at 108-44 53rd Avenue, later became famous as the brief home of pop star Madonna. From 1979-80 she lived in this loft/music studio, playing drums and keyboards in the band The Breakfast Club.Congregation Tifereth Israel is an Individual Landmark and listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.