Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lecture on Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, June 26, 2016, 7-9pm

Yossele's World

Photo Source: 

A presentation on the Life, Times and Artistry of Yossele Rosenblatt, 

the World’s – and Harlem’s – most famous Cantor.

The great Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt in historical context as you’ve never seen and heard him. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016, 7-9 pm 

Covering his 1882 birth in Ukraine into a renowned family of chazzonim, meteoric rise in Austro-Hungary, relocation to one of America’s leading Jewish communities – in HARLEM, NYC – fame, recordings, compositions, performance in the world’s first hit talkie, and his untimely demise in Palestine in 1933, the life of Yossele Rosenblatt offers a fascinating glimpse into into early 20th Century American Jewish life. 

EXHAUSTIVELY researched, BEAUTIFULLY illustrated, this LIVE LECTURE provides historical context on NY Jewish communities and American culture, and the evolution of the recording industry. SEE rare photos and film. HEAR recordings on period phonographs. 

Presenter CHARLIE BERNHAUT has for over 50 years assembled two great collections: period phonographs and 14,000+ Jewish albums and chazzonus recordings. His live productions, radio programs, podcasts, and publications are leaders in the field. Learn more at CharlieBernhaut.com

Admission Free 

For an illustrated flyer, click here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Meet Rabbi Mike and Rebbetzin Keren Moskowitz!

The Old Broadway Synagogue is pleased to introduce you to our new Rabbi and Rebbetzin, Mike and Keren Moskowitz. Mike hails from Richmond VA, where he lead a kollel and substantial outreach efforts. Keren works at Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future in the Rabbinic Placement Department. 

Mike and Keren's engagement photo.

Please introduce yourself  to Moskowitzes and wish them a mazel tov.                         
                                     They look forward to meeting you!                                                                            

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sam and Dora Ratner and the Old Broadway Synagogue Sukkah

Four years ago, in 2010, we rebuilt our fixed sukkah in the back courtyard on foundation of the sukkah that was donated to the synagogue by Sam and Dora Ratner back in in 1954. Since this year is the sixtieth anniversary of that sukkah, it is appropriate to reflect on the Ratners and their contribution to the synagogue.

Before I go further, I should say that it was much that the Ratners donated the sukkah, they most likely donated the materials, but moreover, Sam built the sukkah with his own hands. And a great job he did at that since the sukkah was in operation until 2009 when the heavily reinforced roof flaps started pulling the walls apart.

Dorothy and Dora Ratner, middle to late 1940s.
According to Sam's grandson, Ken Ratner, Sam was born in 1897 in Zelva, Byelorussia, and came to the United States via Ellis Island. The origin of the name "Ratner" is shrouded in mystery, since the family's original name was "Bublatzky." One theory has it that the name was the maiden name of a woman who married into the family. Another theory is that the orignal name was changed at Ellis Island (I myself am usually suspicious of such stories, and on the Ellis Island site, one can find both names on the lists of arriving passengers). In any event, it seems to have been changed by Sam's father, Eliahu (Bublatzky) Ratner. Please click here for further notes on the Ratner family genealogy.

Sam opened a dry good store in lower Manhattan and later another one on White Plains Road in the Bronx, but lost these stores in the Depression. Later, he moved to Harlem and opened another dry goods store.

Ken and David Ratner and Abraham Klein, 1966
In 1921, Sam married Dora Sackinsky in Brooklyn. Sam and Dora son, Herbert, married Dorothy Rogoff in the late 1940s and had sons Robert, Ken and David. Herbert and Dorothy, their children and Dorothy's mother, Esther (Kiki) Rogoff,  lived at 160 Claremont, and then moved briefly into the Manhattanville Houses when they opened in 1961. After a few years, the family moved into 180 Claremont (where the Krets, the Rubinsteins, the Feigenblatts and the Libermans lived, among others). When Sam died in 1958 (four years after building the sukkah), Dora married member of the Old Broadway Synagogue, Abraham Klein Sometime in the 1970s, the Kleins moved to Florida, where Abraham died in 1979 and Dora died in 1996.
Esther Rogoff, 1985
Robert Ratner Bar Mitzvah Photo, 1963

When we decided the the sukkah built by Sam Ratner was no longer safe, we considered a couple different options. One would be to demolish the old sukkah and just put up a nylon sukkah, as many people in the suburbs have. The second option would be to recreate our original sukkah as best we could. In light of the fact that the old sukkah had served us well, and also because it was built in an old European style which included moveable roof flaps (compare with the images of the sukkos that appear in the extraordinary sukkah decoration was created by R. Aryeh Steinberger and hangs in the first floor of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan), we decided to recreate the sukkah that Sam Ratner built. We had to raise the money from a number of contributors to build the new sukkah, and because none of us had Sam Ratner's expertise, we hired Alex Myftarago, the contractor who rebuilt the roof, to build the new sukkah. As was noted above, the new sukkah was built upon the foundation of the old sukkah and largely along the same lines. To express our continuing thanks to the Ratners for nearly 50 years of the sukkah, we installed the old sukkah plaque next to the new one, which thanks our recent generous donors. Let's hope the new sukkah will last as long as the one it replaced!

Plaque thanking the Ratners on the left, and plaque thanking the contributors to the new sukkah on the right, 2010. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


The Old Broadway Synagogue has been awarded a $25,000 Jewish Heritage Fund matching grant from the  New York Landmarks Conservancy. The grant is conditional on our raising matching funds, which I am pleased to announce that we have done. The grant and the matching funds add up to $50,000, but the entire project will cost $67,000. Now we are trying to raise the additional $17,000.  This project will repoint the exterior of the building, replace the rear exit doors with new doors with emergency hardware, repaint the fire escape and restore the large window in the rear facade. We hope to carry out the project this summer (2014).

The facade of the Old Broadway Synagogue after the restoration of the stained glass windows and the facade that was done in 2003 with a grant from the Upper Manhattan Historic Preservation Fund (and administered by the New York Landmarks Conservancy). The proposed work will focus on the side and rear elevations of the building.
 Your help will be deeply appreciated. If you would like to contribute, please send a check made out to the "Old Broadway Synagogue" to Old Broadway Synagogue, 15 Old Broadway, New York, NY 10027.  In the memo section, please  write "Exterior Restoration." You can also contribute online through Paypal by clicking here. Thank you in advance for your help!


Now we need to raise the rest of the money -
 $17,000 - to complete the project

We thank the following for their support:

Sam Alperin
Shirley Bennett
Donald and Helen Brown
Ruth Brown
Barbara and Mark Cane
Seth and Rachel Chalmer
Daniel and Jennifer Cohen
Daniel Davidow
Allan Dolgow
Samson Frankel
Avi and Jodi Friedman
Edward Kahn
Professor Eli Katz
Stephen Katzman
Chanan and Eve Kessler
Cameron LaFollette
Jose Melendrez and Rebecca Dreisinger
Eric and Gloria Plaks
Asher Radensky
Paul Radensky
Sheila Rubin
Irving Ruderman
Leon Sadoff
Harry and Courtney Schley
Jerome Schuster
Scott Schuster
Daniel and Esther Steinhauer
Martin and Sara Suman
Dr. Robert and Professor Lottie Tartell