Though not particularly religious, Boris Karasik enjoyed going to the Orthodox Mapleton Park Jewish Center in the seven years since he arrived in Brooklyn from Belarus.
At the Bensonhurst shul, he could hear a sermon in Russian and recite the Kaddish for lost relatives. But the former Red Army officer, who fought the Nazis and wears his medals proudly on his chest, could also swap war stories with other immigrants over a bottle of cognac.
Seeking a strategy for survival in a changing demographic landscape, members of the Rego Park Jewish Center may soon look to a mechitza as the answer to their prayers.
The 65-year-old Conservative congregation, which has lost more than half its members in the past five years, is considering a shift to Orthodoxy to remain viable.
When David Isler and his wife, Esther, were looking to move from their home in Kew Gardens, Queens, to a house on Long Island, they sought out small Orthodox communities where “everybody knows everybody and is warm and friendly.”
And the $25,000 cash incentive one of them offered didn’t hurt.
Renewal, a theme of the High Holy Days, will resonate in particular this year for the congregants of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue, which was heavily damaged last month by fire. “I’m going to speak about the lessons one unfortunately takes from a trauma like this,” said Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, the congregation’s spiritual leader. “I’m going to talk of the vision of rebuilding, something that unfortunately Jews are accustomed to doing. And I’m going to say that just as buildings can be rebuilt, so can lives.”
A fire that heavily damaged the second floor ballroom of Temple Israel in Great Neck early Tuesday was sparked by sawdust that spontaneously ignited, according to fire officials.
“Last night they were sanding the floor and the contractor put sawdust in a closed container in a corner of the room,” explained Victor Fuentes, chief of the Great Neck Alert Fire Department. “There was a spontaneous combustion from the sawdust and the chemicals [from the floor].”
They marched in joy and they marched in sadness, under a sweltering sun. And for the marchers, it was an ending and a beginning, the poignant close of one chapter and the promising opening of another.
More than 250 congregants joined in a ceremony Sunday in which seven Torahs from the Bethpage Jewish Community Center were carried some three miles to their new home at the Midway Jewish Center in Syosset as the congregations officially merged.
Citing a gradual decline in membership over the past 30 years, the rabbi of the East Nassau Hebrew Congregation in Syosset, L.I., decided late last year to sell the building.
But a group of area residents who claim to be synagogue members have sued to block the sale. The lawyer for the group, Michael Adler, said they want to pay the rabbi, Solomon Appleman, $1 million just to walk away and let them reorganize the congregation with the help of the local Chabad or some other organization.
An electrical fire raced through a wing of the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Plandome, L.I., Monday, forcing the evacuation of 75 nursery school children and about 20 teachers and staff. There were no injuries.
Sylvia Jacobs, the synagogue's executive director, said the blaze was discovered shortly before 11 a.m. in a wall leading to the basement. It destroyed a men's room, hall carpeting and a portion of the roof before firemen from six departments extinguished it.
Maurice Levonbron was born eight years after his synagogue.
As the Huntington Jewish Center prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary next March, it has begun collecting reminiscences from some of its longtime members, including Levonbron, who celebrated his bar mitzvah there 79 years ago.
"We went to the shul and I had my bar mitzvah and my mother later had a dinner [for the relatives] at home," said Levonbron, a retired lawyer who celebrated his 92nd birthday Sept. 4.