When Tima Ashurov decided to open a restaurant specializing in Eastern European delicacies, he never considered Brighton Beach.
The south Brooklyn mecca for Russian immigrants is already teeming with eateries. It's not his scene. "It's a different mentality there," says Ashurov, who emigrated from Nal'chik, in Russia's Caucasus region in 1990.
When real estate broker Abe Podolsky approached the owners of Dagan's Kosher Pizza about relocating to Mill Basin, the negotiations took on all the drama of a major-league scout trying to sign a star pitcher.
"He offered us a long lease, good rent, whatever we want," recalls Ayala Dagan, who had operated her pizzeria on Ralph Avenue in Canarsie for 16 years.
With great fanfare, the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island officially opened its new, $42 million center in Sea View this week, a bustling complex that showcases the borough’s rapid Jewish growth.
The 115,000-square-foot facility is now the third site on the island operated by the JCC, which has 2,800 member households. But the new building’s amenities dwarf those of the other locations, as well as those at many JCCs in North America.
There is no greater symbol of thriving Jewish life on Staten Island than the new 100,000-square-foot, $33 million community center soon to rise in Willowbrook.
But one thing that won’t be rising is the JCC’s mortgage costs, thanks to a $2 million donation announced this week by Alan and Joan Bernikow, supporters of the center for more than 30 years.
Standing with as many as 180 other Orthodox Jews in a Long Island Rail Road car en route to Manhattan, Michael Markovitch of Lawrence shook his head. “This is a phenomenal experience,” he said. “Only in New York could you experience something like this.”
After more than 40 years of conducting worship services in rented space at Congregation Ohab Zedek on the Upper West Side, the Yom Kippur service held this week by the city's only Austrian congregation appears as though it will be its last.
Ohab Zedek officials say their congregation needs the space and the Austrian congregation consistently fails to attract a minyan.
The Austrian Consulate, in an effort to help keep the Austrian Jewish heritage alive here, has offered its assistance as the Austrian congregation seeks a new site for Sabbath and holiday services.
Phyllis Blackman had been alternately attending the West Side Jewish Center and a Chabad synagogue when she suddenly sprained her ankle and found herself unable to walk more than a block. "And then like magic, they opened this synagogue around the corner from me," she said, referring to the Jewish Enrichment Center on the second floor of 176 Madison Ave. at 34th Street. "I had known the rabbi from [his previous pulpit at] the Murray Hill Synagogue. When he opened here, he called me and invited me to check it out."
Last Wednesday, the day after the elections, Elliot Prager, the principal of Moriah, a Modern Orthodox day school in Englewood, N.J., was approached by a 9-year-old student in the hallway, who asked him if he was afraid.
“Afraid of what?’ I asked,” Prager recalled the other day. “Afraid of Obama,” the child replied. “My Mommy and Daddy told me that he doesn’t like Jews and is dangerous.”
The basic ground rule for a two-hour roundtable discussion last Thursday sponsored by The Jewish Week and JInsider.com, a Jewish news Web site, on “Jewish Philanthropy in Crisis: Creative Strategies for Moving Forward,” was that the 18 participants could not use “the M word,” as in Madoff.