Congregation Gates of Prayer (Metairie, La.) | Tulane University Special Collections
Congregation Gates of Prayer was organized in the "Old Lafayette" area of New Orleans on 1849 May 1 and incorporated in 1850 March. Charter members included Abraham de Young, Henry Ascher, Benjamin Goldberg, Frank Bacharach, N. Greensberger, Emmannuel Lazar, and L. Leopold. A chevra or benevolent society had been in existence in the Lafayette area from the 1830s. About forty families came together as early as 1848, adopting the German ritual, and set about founding a synagogue. Early gathering places were those used by the chevra, at Washington and Constance streets and later at Fifth and Chippewa streets.
By 1852 worship was held at Seventh and Tchoupitoulas streets. After this period, a small school located at Fulton and St. Mary streets served as a meeting place until 1856. A synagogue was built in 1860, called the Lafayette Schule, on Jackson Avenue near Chippewa Street. The Congregation moved to 1139 Napoleon Avenue in 1920. This building was restored and reopened in 1953. In the early 1970s a survey was made of the membership, which revealed that the majority resided in Jefferson Parish. The decision was made to move the Congregation to Jefferson Parish and establish a new synagogue at 4000 West Esplanade in Metairie.
For many years the Congregation followed the Orthodox tradition and services were conducted by a cantor. At the turn of the century, the influence of the Reform movement was felt, and in 1906 the first rabbi was engaged. He was Rabbi Moise Bergman, a native of New Orleans and a graduate of Hebrew Union College. He was followed by Dr. Mendel Silber, Rabbi Nathaniel S. Share, Rabbi Kenneth I. Siegel, and Rabbi Robert H. Loewy.