YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Since its inception in 1952, the Yorktown Jewish Middle has been a congregation rooted in custom. The non-profit non secular establishment by no means moved from its unique location on the nook of Crompond Highway and Loretta Road, and has solely had two rabbis all through its 68-year existence.
The Yorktown Jewish Middle is closing its doorways on the finish of June and ending all non secular practices. The closure is as a result of regular decline in membership in non secular establishments over the previous decade and a half, a scarcity of monetary sources to stay open, and the retirement of their longtime rabbi.
“Our present rabbi, Seth Sternstein, who has been with us for 15 years, is retiring, and once we regarded on the feasibility of hiring a brand new rabbi, it’s simply not financially viable,” stated Marvin Medow, one of many Jewish Middle’s three co-presidents, together with Michael Mirksy and Stacy Mitgang. “Our numbers have been steadily reducing over the past decade and a half, to the purpose the place it’s simply not financially viable for us to remain open.”
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The Jewish Middle having simply two rabbis in its 68-year existence is a testomony to the household group constructed underneath its roof. The primary was Rabbi Stanley Urbas, who retired in 2006 and have become a Rabbi Emeritus. Following him was Rabbi Sternstein, who will retire upon the closing of the middle.
“It’s fairly uncommon of a congregation of that age to be fortunate sufficient to love their rabbi, and to have the rabbi just like the congregation sufficient to have solely two Rabbis,” Medow stated, laughingly. “The beauty of every of our rabbis has been that every of them weren’t solely the non secular leaders, however in addition they grew to become your buddy, your confidante, and a member of the family.”
The group that has been constructed on the Yorktown Jewish Middle extends nicely previous the rabbis and presidents. For 68 years, a multigenerational household has been constructed among the many congregation, and it’s the side of the Yorktown Jewish Middle that can dwell on after it closes via social gatherings and different non secular practices.
“Our congregation can finest be described as a detailed household. Our largest disappointment is that our household goes to be dispersed and folk will be part of different establishments, so we gained’t be staying collectively as one congregation,” Medow stated.
Medow famous that there was a major decline in people collaborating in organized faith and referenced the Pew Analysis Middle’s 2013 portrait of Jewish People, a report that confirmed that about 20 % of Jewish People had reported themselves as figuring out with no faith.
“The one sector throughout the Jewish religion that’s rising is the Orthodox department,” he added.
This was unforeseeable when Yorktown Jewish Middle took out a mortgage on the constructing to endure a serious renovation to improve their services and infrastructure, a two-year undertaking that ran from 2005 to 2007.
“At the moment, we had each expectation that we’d stay secure, and we hoped to develop,” Medow stated. “We have been left with a shrinking congregation and a secure mortgage.”
The group regarded extensively at different choices to maintain themselves afloat, akin to merging with one other native congregation or forming a coalition with different synagogues.
“We, sadly, weren’t in a position to do something like that. We spoke to a number of different congregations within the space within the hopes that we’d all be capable to get collectively in a single location and proceed, however that didn’t work out,” Medow stated.
By means of frequent communications with members of the congregation, the Yorktown Jewish Middle has promoted different methods for them to indicate religion and worship within the space. All through the pandemic, the group has supplied hyperlinks to Zoom companies and different sources at surrounding synagogues, in addition to internet hosting Zoom companies of their very own for his or her congregants.
“The one factor I remorse is the truth that our numbers have fallen off and we’re not a viable entity, however I’ll guarantee you that even on this most troublesome technique of planning our finish, all people has labored respectfully and in a thoughtful style to finest consider our choices to do issues in a dignified style,” Medow stated.
As a result of the Yorktown Jewish Middle is included as a non-profit non secular establishment, the sale should be authorised by the New York State lawyer normal’s workplace. After the sale and the satisfaction of their monetary obligations, if there are any belongings or money left over, the choice of how you can disperse them will likely be determined by a congregational vote.
The property and its 17,120-square-foot constructing is listed on the market by Coldwell Banker with an asking value of $2.95 million.
“We’re not going to understand how a lot money, if we now have money, till after the sale. Which will occur subsequent week; which will occur subsequent yr,” Medow stated. “What we as a congregation will do earlier than we file with the lawyer normal, is we are going to resolve who’s to derive profit from these belongings.”
Medow added that the Yorktown Jewish Middle is just allowed to distribute its belongings to “like organizations,” akin to different non-profit non secular establishments or charitable organizations. There aren’t any set plans for the belongings, however the group is considering of splitting its funds amongst non secular or charitable establishments within the Yorktown space to proceed the mission of the middle.
“It’s very unhappy, and really, very troublesome to take care of, and really emotional,” Medow stated. He referred to as the congregation’s closing as a “diaspora,” a dispersal of the members of the Yorktown Jewish Middle as they department out to search out new non secular properties within the Yorktown space.