New York, NY – Once Synagogues, Now Churches, and Ailing Quietly

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    New York, NY – Throughout the city, houses of worship built in the last century for Jewish immigrants from Europe are now home to congregations with roots in Latin America, the Caribbean or the American South.

    The traces of past Jewish life in Brownsville, Brooklyn, are a little less evident at first glance. A half century has erased pretty much any clue that 375 Bristol Street used to be a synagogue. Remade in yellow brick face on the outside and white drywall on the inside, it is now home to Little Rock Baptist Church.

    Despite the lack of Jewish symbols on some of the old buildings, Ann-Isabel Friedman, who directs the conservancy’s sacred sites program, can read them like a book. In one former synagogue, on Chester Street in Brooklyn, she pointed out how the towers flanking the central door encased stairs to the women’s balcony. In another, she saw how a plywood-covered recess hid an old skylight.

    She stood before one former synagogue in Brownsville and noted how the details were exactly like those found on modest houses of worship on the Lower East Side.

    “What you see here is the vernacular synagogue style from the 1920s,” she said. “They took the Lower East Side synagogue and brought it to their new neighborhood in Brooklyn.”

    She admitted that they would not be able to get much help for those old buildings that had obliterated past architectural details. Nor might they be able to do much for some once grand structures that have fallen into severe disrepair, like St. Timothy Holy Church, which occupies what used to be the Amboy Street Shul in Brownsville, Brooklyn

    Past the marble walls, where the Hebrew script is partly obscured by Caribbean flags from the island homelands of its current occupants. [NYtimes]

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    8 COMMENTS

    1. Is it possible to remove the stained glass windows & carved marble blocks and incorporate them into new Torah structures elsewhere? They certainly don’t belong in goyishe places of worship.

    2. Although it is the sad reality of the changing neighborhoods. My father z’l attended the yeshiva of Brownsville. To see these shuls in this state rips the heart out. al zeh haya dave leebeinu!!

    3. I am so shocked to learn this news, its so sad that there are organizations for every walk of Jewish life, and to save Shuls to get in the hands of Goyiem, there is silence!

      Where is Agudas Israel?
      Where is OU?
      Where is Lubavitch?

      Wake up!!

      This is a tremendous chillul hashem!!

      The walls are crying…..

    4. Sad, very sad.
      This is the future of klal yisroel in galus… all our mosdos will finally emerge in the hands of others as the chosen people choose (?) to live in the holy land.

    5. Lubavitch is in Crown Heights maintaing their shus and restoring others. It’s the other chassidim that ran. Amazing how you found the opportunity to try to criticize Lubavitch when they are the only ones actually doing something in this specific instance!

    6. a sad story and let us hope something can be done to reclaim these shuls. It hardly fair to demand it from Lubavitch Thanks to the directives of the Rebbe their shuls were not abandoned despite racial unrest besides which they are doing their fair share of saving. Let us not forget that Lubavitch were the pioneers of kiruv rechokim determination not to allow this to happen to their shul is busy saving neshomos

    7. Some other Shuls in Eastern Europe AND in the Good Old USA had much worse fates. I remember passing by a lumber yard in South Ozone Park, Queens to see that the CHARRED main building was a SHUL, with the Star of David still intact in the window.

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