Harav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, studied in the Slabodka Yeshiva in Lithuania from 1932 until 1938. Upon his return to the United States, Rav Miller and his family lived with his parents in Baltimore, Maryland, until the early spring of 1939, when he became the Rav of Congregation Agudath Sholom in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
This magnificent shul was and still is located at 145 Walnut Street. It is almost always referred to as the Walnut Street Shul. Rav Miller served the congregation until November 1944, when he left Chelsea to assume the position of mashgiach at Mesivta Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, New York.
Chelsea is located about five miles northeast of Boston, Massachusetts and occupies an area of 1.8 square miles. It was settled in 1624 by the British and named the Winnisimmet trading post, because it is near the Winnisimmet River. According to local historical records, Nathan Morse, the first Jewish resident of Chelsea, arrived in 1864. In 1890 there were eighty-two Jews living in Chelsea.
Some of the many Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe who immigrated to the United States between 1890 and 1920 settled in Chelsea. By 1910 the number of Jews had grown to 11,225, nearly one-third of the entire population of the city. In the 1930s there were about 20,000 Jewish residents in Chelsea out of a total population of almost 46,000. Given the area of the city, Chelsea may well have had the most Jews per square mile of any city outside of New York.
To be continued...
Pictures courtesy Dr. Yitzchok Levine. Text courtesy Hamodia.