Friday, September 18, 2009

Sad end for a 103-year old Rockaway congregation

From the NY Times:

Preparations for the High Holy Days have taken on a new urgency this year at Congregation Derech Emunoh, once one of the city’s largest synagogues, but for the last seven years reduced to conducting services in a run-down double-wide trailer hard by the Atlantic Ocean on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.

As in many other synagogues, members are setting up additional seating — in Derech Emunoh’s case, beyond the usual 20 or so mismatched chairs and sagging sofa — for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services. They are clearing the dirt parking area and walkway of debris, weeds and trash where the trailer sits, in a desolate construction site for one of the largest residential development projects underway in New York City.

But the leaders of Derech Emunoh are also scrambling to find a new home, since the developer of the $1 billion project — Arverne by the Sea, which is eventually expected to include 2,300 houses and condominiums on 117 acres — has ordered the Orthodox synagogue to vacate the trailer right after Yom Kippur, on Sept. 28, to make way for the bulldozers and backhoes.

Once an architectural gem that drew 800 people on Saturday mornings, Derech Emunoh — Hebrew for “path of faith” — has made its hard-luck home in the trailer since a fire in 2002 destroyed its building. Members had long hoped that the redevelopment of the Arverne neighborhood, once a seaside getaway, would be their salvation, bringing an infusion of Jewish newcomers. Instead, it has them on the verge of extinction.

You'd think Arverne by the Sea would want to keep it as a community facility and use it to increase the size of their project...


georgetheatheist said...

See? We atheists don't have problems like this

Anonymous said...

Looks more like a Wesk Bank outpost in the middle of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

We atheists do have problems like this. THIS is the problem.

Taxpayer said...

georgetheatheist said...
"See? We atheists don't have problems like this"

- - -

You do have a big problem now, George, if this congregation evaporates.

Who will pray for your soul when they're gone?

You don't pray for your own soul (you believe you don't even have one), so these devout folks have to treat you like a welfare recipient. They who have so much belief are willing to redistribute that belief in you on behalf of your soul. They do that with their devout prayer.

Sort of like a religious ACORN.

georgetheatheist said...

Pray tell, where is this so-called "soul" located?

Taxpayer said...

georgetheatheist said...
"Pray tell, where is this so-called "soul" located?"

- - -


To answer your soulful prayer: I don't know the exact location, but logic dictates that the soul has to be located in the spot most delighted by soul music or soul food.

Soulful looks originate from that same spot.

And, soulmates are connected to each other at that spot.

georgetheatheist said...

"Logic dictates". Really?

Pleasant vibes from soul music, soul food, soulful looks can be attributed to secretions from the pituitary gland.

I'm such a poet.

Taxpayer said...

The pituitary gland.

Wo! What an insight!

This is such a vital organ. Though I had never considered it as being the soul, it just could be the soul, after all.

Why not the pituitary gland?

Of course we have other great organs that provide us with much interaction with other humans - and this is a great thing, but it may well be that you are very correct.

A most vital organ. Vital indeed. So vital that it turns out to be our soul.

Thank you, George! You've just made history! A self-proclaimed atheist found our soul!

georgetheatheist said...

You're quite welcome.

I'm glad you found the opportunity to vent your spleen.

(Now, back on your knees and beat your breast.)

Anonymous said...

Sounds a wee odd - a poor Rabbi or poor flock.\?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Sounds a wee odd - a poor Rabbi or poor flock.\?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Odd in what way?

Sergey Kadinsky said...

It is unfortunate when a shul dies. Decades from now, if Jews return to Arverne, there will be no land left for a new shul.

My alma mater, CCNY, once had an elegant brownstone for its Hillel club. With the college's decline, and Harlem's deterioration, the campus Jewish community also dwindled, and the burned-out building was sold.

In 2003, the Hillel club was reborn, but without a building, we used classrooms for meetings and prayers.

The lesson is clear. In this city, if you want your community to have a future, you gotta own the land.