Wednesday, September 14, 2022

High Holidays at the Old Broadway Synagogue, 5783


Cantor Joelson leadng the Kol Nidrei Service in "The Jazz Singer"
(source: Museum of Family History)


First Night Selichos
Motzoei Shabbos Sept 17/18 12:30am

Rosh Hashanah
September 25-27, 2022 

Sunday, September 25, 2022
Minchah and Maariv (First night) 7:00pm

Monday, September 26, 2022
Shacharis (First day)  8:30am
Blowing of the Shofar 10:30am
Minchah  and Tashlikh 5:30pm
Maariv (Second night)  after 7:27pm

Tuesday, September 27 , 2022
Shacharis (Second day)  8:30am
Blowing of the Shofar 10:30am
Minchah  6:30pm
Maariv 7:25pm

October 4-5, 2022

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 
Kol Nidrei and Maariv  6:10pm

Wednesday October 5, 2022
Shacharis 8:30am
Yizkor 10:30am
Minchah 4:35pm
Ne’ilah 6:05pm
Fast ends 7:12pm

We are delighted to announce that services
 will be led by the talented baalei tefilah
Rabbi Reuven Hoff and Mr. Yosef Tannenbaum.

Purchase your High Holiday tickets now!
Reservations are $100 per person.

To reserve please click here to pay by PayPal
or send a check for the appropriate 
amount made out to 
“Old Broadway Synagogue,”and send it 
to the shul at 15 Old Broadway, 
New York, NY 10027.

!לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Old Broadway Synagogue Honor Roll from 1943


This plaque had been in our basement for at least long as I have been attending the Old Broadway Synagogue. Our contractor, Chris Mickalski, recently installed it for us. I had heard that it had been under the fluorescent light fixture on the south wall of the synagogue opposite the bimah, which is where the plaque is now. I believe that the men who are listed on this plaque were associated with Old Broadway (or they had relatives associated with Old Broadway) and who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is hard to believe that Old Broadway had that many young men who attended the synagogue in the 1940s, but I suppose that truth can be stranger than fiction. I hope to transcribe the names and include them in a blog post so that they will be search. If anyone can add information about any of these individuals, please do so in the comments below. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Shul Construction Update

Jacking up the lobby floor to install a steel support beam and steel columns

As spring gives way to summer, I am grateful to Hashem that after nearly two and a half years of pandemic, things are returning to normal. Just before the pandemic began, we realized that the floor supporting the staircase to the second floor was gradually sinking. Probes by our conservator and an engineer revealed that at one point during construction, the original contractor planned to build a staircase on the southern wall to the basement, parallel to the staircase on the northern wall. As construction proceeded, the contractor changed his mind and decided that one staircase was enough. As was common from buildings of that era, the hole where the southern staircase was to go was covered but not adequately reinforced. When this was brought to our attention, we resolved to have this deficiency repaired. The pandemic and the the fact that the engineer was sick delayed progress on this project. The condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, reminded us of the importance of our project and enabled us to get things moving.

Under the guidance of our project manager, Ed Kamper, and a new engineer (hired after our first engineer passed away), we hired a contracted and began to make progress. First, the floor was lifted several inches.  Then, a diagonal steel beam, pocketed in the masonry at the ends and supposed by steel posts, was installed. Finally the beam, and the exposed area of the basement and the electrical room was covered in sheetrock. There are still a few things to do (fixing up the ladies room and installing missing light fixtures, addressing a leaky skylight and leaky windows, and other small issues), but the project is almost done. 

What will we do next? Good question! Next year will be hundredth anniversary of the construction of our building, and truth be told, there is still lots of work to be done.  Down the road, we hope to restore the walls along with all the decorative painting, upgrade the electrical system and replace (with new tin) our tin ceiling. Fortunately, the pattern of the original tin is still available. 

We have come as far as we have thanks to the help of the many people who have contributed to the shul. May God bless all of our donors and may they continue to support this holy house of God.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Please Support the Old Broadway Synagogue!

Teves 5782

December 2021

Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you and your families well.

The Gemora, Taanis, page 23a, relates an enigmatic story about Choni Ha-Maagel (Choni the circle-maker), which I would like to share. I am paraphrasing Sefaria’s translation:

One day, Choni was walking along the road when he saw a man planting a carob tree. Choni said to him: “After how many years will this tree bear fruit?” The man replied: “Seventy years.” Choni said to him: “Is it obvious that you will live seventy years, so that you can expect to benefit from this tree?” The man replied that he had found a world full of carob trees. “Just as my ancestors planted for me, I too am planting for my descendants.”

Sleep overcame Choni and …he slept for seventy years. When he awoke, he saw a certain man gathering carob pods from that tree. Ḥoni said to him: “Are you the one who planted this tree?” The man said to him: “I am his grandson.”

The Gemora continues that Choni went home and then to the beis midrash and announced that he was Choni Ha-Maagel, but he was not believed in either place.

There are at least two important lessons in this passage.

The first is that, just as we have received many things from the past, even from many people we have not known personally, we are obligated to prepare the world for the coming generations, even if we will never meet them.

The second is that we need to take advantage of the time that we have now to accomplish as much as we can, whether it is in learning, or building a family, or a community, or helping to develop and support Israel. Just as Choni’s return from the past was not successful, we cannot expect that there will be a better time than right now to make things happen.

These insights from the Gemora help inform what we do at the Old Broadway Synagogue. We are very active for a small community! In addition to the excellent derashos that Rafi gives every Shabbos, our Women’s Rosh Chodesh group, under the leadership of Rhonda Taylor and Laura Radensky, is going strong. We are fortunate to have a wonderful children's group under the leadership of the teen members of the group, who have been davening and learning, and putting on plays based on the weekly Torah reading. Rabbi Heller continues to give wonderful shiurim every other week. Lastly, we had a lovely Chanukah party with arts and crafts live music provided by Lawrence Goldman, Natanel Laevsky, and Eliano Braz.

I am also pleased to say that we have been building up our library of sifrei kodesh at the shul. Thanks to a number of contributions, both monetary and in-kind, we now have a beautiful new set of the Artscroll Mikra’os Gedolos, individual volumes and sets of the Gemora, sets of Mishnayos, and sets of the major meforshim. I would like to add that these books are heavily used and we anticipate the library growing even further.

Continuing our efforts to preserve our historic 98 year-old building for future generations, we have been moving forward on our floor reinforcement project. As noted previously, the first floor in the lobby has been sinking, and the construction that we are about to begin will stabilize and level the floor and keep it sound for the foreseeable future. We have hired a contractor, and have begun to clear out the space in the basement in preparation for the work. We are still raising money and we hope to raise another $40,000 to help cover the cost. With your help, we know that we can reach this goal and complete the work. Please keep us in mind as you make your year-end contributions.

In all, we are doing what we can to preserve Yiddishkeit for future generations, with urgency because as it is written in Psalm 119, “Es la’asos le-Hashem,” “Now is the time to act for Hashem!”

Speaking personally, it is a tremendous zechus for me to be part of the holy community that makes up the Old Broadway Synagogue. Thanks to your support, it has continued to be a place of learning, of Torah, of chesed, as inspired by Rabbi Kret and Mrs. Kret, may their memories be for a blessing. With Hashem’s help, and with your help, may we continue to be a beacon of Yiddishkeit and Torah.

Paul Radensky


Please click here to make an online contribution to the Old Broadway Synagogue.

Monday, August 30, 2021

High Holiday Message for 5782 - 2021

Elul 5781

September 2021

Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you and your family well.

As we approach the end of the year, we should be aware that the new year is a shemittah, or Sabbatical, year. Just as we are to rest on the seventh day of each week, the Torah commands us to allow the agricultural land in Israel to rest on the seventh year of each seven-year cycle. God promises that the produce of the sixth year will be plentiful enough to last for three years- for the sixth year itself, for the seventh year when we are not allowed to plant, and for the eighth year in which we do plant, but when we still have to wait for the crops to mature in order to bring in the harvest. Just as the laws of Shabbos are restrictive but result in rest and in spiritual and physical rejuvenation, so too shemittah results in both spiritual and physical renewal. The first is because during shemittah, we rely on God, deepening our faith. The second is because by letting the land lie fallow, it will recover its nutrients and become fertile again.

During the past year and a half, many of us were forced to rest. For all of us, many things have changed. As we approach the new year, let us do a cheshbon ha-nefesh - an accounting of the soul. Let us recognize that we are all in God’s hands, and let us cherish with greater appreciation our families, our communities and everything we have. In this way, may we proceed me-afelah le-orah, from darkness to light. May God bless us with success, happiness and above all, good health in the new year and the years to come.

We are looking forward to the High Holidays. B’ezras Hashem, Orrin Tilevitz will lead Selichos as he has done for over 30 years, on Saturday night, August 28th at 12:30am. Rabbi Reuven Hoff and Yosef Tannenbaum, will again lead services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. For everyone’s safety, we will keep the building well-ventilated and will ask people to wear masks and observe social distancing.

The past year and a half have been challenging for all synagogues, but I am pleased to say that Old Broadway has been doing well under the circumstances. We lost some congregants but we gained new ones. We have had regular services every week with a thoughtful divrei Torah and a delicious kiddush. We have had a number of simchas including two bat mitzvah celebrations and two marriages. Under the leadership of Rhonda Taylor and Laura Radensky, the Women’s Rosh Chodesh Group has met regularly on Zoom. Rabbi Heller has been giving excellent shiurim in the shul twice a month. Among the topics were: “The Secret History of Lag Ba-Omer,” “How Much Risk Can You Take on Yourself to Help Someone Else?” “When Does a Child Become and Adult,” and “Celebrating and Mourning at the Same Time.” The shul also organized a first aid, CPR, and AED (automated external defibrillator) course and we also purchased a defibrillator. Under Dale Brown’s stewardship, the garden in the back courtyard is in full bloom.

After a pandemic-caused delay, the project to reinforce the first floor lobby and staircase is on track again. When the shul was built in 1923, a staircase was planned to the basement on the south side of the lobby. The staircase ultimately was installed on the north side of the lobby. Unfortunately, the floor on the south side was not properly framed out and has been sinking ever since. We plan to jack up the ceiling and floor to level it, and then, in order to stabilize the floor, we plan to install a steel beam that will cut across the ceiling in the northeast corner of the basement. This work will require moving gas, electric and water lines. Drawings have been prepared, submitted to the Department of Buildings, and approved. We have invited three contractors to submit proposals. Our project manager estimates that the job will cost $84,000, although does not include unforeseen contingencies that may arise while doing the work. So far, we have raised about $32,000. Accordingly, we are still raising funds and will be grateful for your support.

Your generous help has enabled us to welcome people and provide them with beautiful davening and a warm community. You have also enabled us to maintain and restore our historic building. As the New Year approaches, we turn to you again. We hope that we continue to be worthy of your support so that we may continue to be a beacon of Yiddishkeit and Torah to many Jews in Harlem, Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side. May Hashem inscribe and seal you and your families for good health, happiness and success for the New Year.

Le-shanah tovah tikatevu ve-techatemu,

A gut gebentsht yor,

Dr. Paul Radensky