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East Village Rabbi: Let My People Go...Build Condos

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The tiny Anshei Meseritz synagogue at 415 East Sixth Street is celebrating its 100th anniversary, but times are getting tough. The historic building is in bad shape and the congregation has dwindled to the point of not being able to attract minyan?the minimum of 10 men required by Jewish law?for some services. But the synagogue's rabbi is fighting on, and his hope for the synagogue's future is tied to plans to add condos on top of the building so that the congregation can raise enough cash to upgrade its facilities. These plans have surfaced in the past, but the credit crunch derailed them and now preservationists want the building to be left untouched. Like at the Upper West Side's West-Park Church, the topic of landmarking houses of worship with dwindling memberships is a touchy one. Rabbi Pesach Ackerman, 81, tells The Villager his side of the story:

“I don’t want landmark status — and neither does my board or most of my congregation,” he asserted. “We don’t want to turn this into some kind of lifeless museum. We want it to be a living and active synagogue — a holy place — and that means growth and making some changes. “If it doesn’t grow, then you won’t have people praying here anymore,” he added. “It’ll die out and all you’ll have is tour buses pulling up to the front door looking at the architecture. I want to attract more neighborhood people who are interested in Judaism and prayer — not tourists,” he said. “That’s what’s most important and that’s what — God willing — is going to happen here. Landmark status would tie our hands.”

Convincing argument? We were raised better than to question a rabbi, so we'll leave it at that. The current idea is to add two floors on top of the building. Kosher?
· Historic synagogue needs condo units on top, rabbi says [The Villager]
· Queens Casino Revealed (Maybe!); Saving an East Village Temple [Curbed]