The rabbi of a synagogue in Rockaway heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy recently noted the illogic of those who argue that houses of worship should not be allowed to apply for federal emergency aid, in keeping with the separation of church and state.
UJA-Federation of New York announced its second year of awards to synagogues that have done “exemplary” work in making their spaces more inclusive of people with disabilities, according to a press release.
Had it been two blocks south and a bit farther east, the 16th Street Synagogue would have been included in Gerard R. Wolfe’s excellent new edition of his classic work, “The Synagogues of New York’s Lower East Side: A Retrospective and Contemporary View,” (Empire State Editions/Fordham University Press). That shul, formerly the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue, is being evicted from its building, after a long dispute with a developer.
Those interested in New York City’s building genealogy and the intertwining connections between real estate interests, immigrant history, shifting populations and synagogue life will find much of interest in Wolfe’s book, first published in 1978. He details the active synagogues (12) and the “lost” or endangered synagogues (24), and also includes a great chronological chart documenting shul mergers and breakaways in New York City, 1654 – 1875.
Hurricane Sandy was the first major U.S. storm of the Twitter era. Like so many others, I was following the storm using social media, including Facebook and Twitter updates. Worried about friends in the East Coast, I tried to gauge just how devastating this act of nature was going to be.
One thing I noticed was that synagogues and temples along the Eastern corridor were using new media communication efforts to keep their membership informed about the storm, the cancellation of schools and programs, and to offer help to those in need (both during and after the storm).
As a rabbi who is a social mediaologist, I find myself consulting a lot of synagogues and Jewish nonprofits on their social media strategy. The leaders of these institutions all recognize that they require a social media strategy, but the plan for how it will be implemented varies greatly.
In my last year of rabbinical school, I had an interesting conversation with a rabbi of a large congregation. He told me that he had put his foot down and refused to let his congregation create a synagogue-wide email LISTSERV. His rationale? This forum would be used by the membership to complain about the synagogue and the rabbi.
Synagogues are places of meaning, sanctuaries for the soul, magnets for community. This month, we look at their history, both ancient and modern; art and architecture; ritual and prayer. And, we feature several personal stories about synagogues and their