From the Times Ledger:
The Free Synagogue of Flushing, a rare remnant of the neighborhood’s past, has fallen into disrepair, but its current caretakers are beginning in earnest to pursue its full restoration.
The 82-year-old temple is an example of an increasingly uncommon sight in downtown Flushing, a reminder of the fading prominence of the Jewish population there, as Barone Pizza on Main Street is of the declining visibility of its Italians.
Many local synagogues have left downtown Flushing or shuttered entirely, but this place of worship will remain in the community that has supported it since before the Great Depression, according to the Free Synagogue’s rabbi, Michael Weisser.
“We’re going to do a complete restoration on the building, which is a beautiful historical building — a treasure really — because we’ve made a commitment to stay in Flushing,” he said. “This congregation’s been a center of this downtown Flushing community for so many years, and if we were to leave it would leave a void, so our leadership decided we’re going to stay.”
The windows and opulent ceiling dome of the temple’s spacious sanctuary are made of Czechoslovakian stained glass, but with time they have deteriorated, as have the accompanying plaster artworks and moldings. When a sizable chunk of plaster fell from the dome one recent day when the sanctuary was not in use, crashing among the empty pews, the need to repair the space was put into stark focus, according to Weisser.
So in September synagogue leaders announced the beginning of a multi-faceted fund-raising drive to come up with the estimated $500,000 required for the renovations, which will also include replacing the facility’s roof.