Religion & Beliefs

Should Old Synagogues Be Reincarnated?

All over New York City, churches that were once synagogues still have hints of their Jewish pasts, from stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Torah, to Stars of David carved into wooden pews.  But while these churches once gave … Read More

By / January 28, 2008

All over New York City, churches that were once synagogues still have hints of their Jewish pasts, from stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Torah, to Stars of David carved into wooden pews.  But while these churches once gave new life to historically Jewish buildings, the Times reports that many churches are meeting the same unfortunate fate as their predecessors. The recent re-opening of the Eldridge Street Synagogue is a positive sign, but there are countless smaller churches and synagogues in New York that are currently falling into disrepair, and it’s hard not to wonder what’s ahead for these struggling institutions. Does the Jewish community have a stake in preserving these landmarks, even if they’re not for our own use? Is saving the buildings really the best use of time and funds, or should efforts go towards emerging community centers? Or, as Stacey Kalish asks in her recent review of the new Deity bar in Brookly (formerly a yeshiva), should religious buildings be revamped for decidedly secular purposes? With structures deteriorating and congregation membership waning, these questions will undoubtedly continue to arise.