The Five Towns—comprising the villages of Cedarhurst and Lawrence and the communities of Woodmere, Hewlett, and Inwood—is an area nestled on the South Shore of Long Island next to the easternmost part of Queens, known as Far Rockaway. Originally popular as a Jewish summer vacation spot near the Atlantic Ocean, the Five Towns and the Far Rockaway area grew to become a thriving, year-round Jewish metropolis, with thousands of families and scores of synagogues and Jewish educational institutions. A center for shopping and kosher restaurants, the Five Towns area has become one of the most popular locations for young, married Jewish couples. Jewish influence has expanded greatly in local government and education. The rich history of the early years of Jewish growth and development in the Five Towns and Rockaways lends a deeper understanding of this phenomenal change of demographics and influence that has occurred over the last few decades.
The Jewish Heritage Society of the Five Towns has gathered hundreds of images from its vast collection and artifacts from the Leiman Library, local citizens, and institutions to paint a broader picture of its history and culture.
The Jewish Heritage Society of the Five Towns, a charitable organization, tax exempt under section 510(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue code, was founded through the vision of Rabbi Benjamin Kamenetzky, who was one of the original pioneers of the Orthodox Jewish community of the Five Towns. At the 50th anniversary of the founding of Yeshiva of South Shore in 2006, Rabbi Kamenetzky commissioned a group of volunteers to collect and organize photographs, newspaper clippings, and other artifacts that documented the history of the growth of the community. That collection grew through the efforts of dozens of men and women, institutions, and organizations who were eager to share their wealth of knowledge and their cherished memories.