The history of the Jewish community of Trenton reflects patterns seen elsewhere in the United States. Immigrants from Germany who arrived in the 1850s and 1860s organized the first communal institutions—a burial association and a synagogue. Eastern European Jews followed, reaching Trenton in the 1880s and continuing to come steadily until immigration was restricted in the 1920s. In 1905 roughly 1500 Jews lived in Trenton; by the mid-1920s the Jewish community had doubled. In those decades, the Jewish community grew at more than twice the rate of the city’s overall population.
As Trenton’s Jewish population grew, so did the organizational complexity of the community. In 1910 a few of the Jewish clubs in Trenton united to form a Young Men’s Hebrew Association, and within a few years Trenton’s young Jewish women built a similar organization for themselves. In 1917 the YM/YWHA purchased a three-story building for $25,000. When renovations were completed, the facility was hailed as one of the best Jewish Y's in the country. It was the first in New Jersey, and it boasted the only indoor swimming pool in Trenton. Over the following decades, the Y successfully served the social, cultural, and physical needs of the Jewish community of Trenton.