Anonymous to the Rescue for Lincoln Square Synagogue

By Larry Yudelson

Published November 12, 2010.

An anonymous donor has offered $20 million to Manhattan’s Lincoln Square Synagogue to enable it to complete construction on its new building just one month after cost overruns had threatened to abort the project in midstream.

The congregation—an iconic symbol of Modern Orthodoxy in New York and nationally—faced a $19.5 million funding gap.

“We feel ourselves very blessed,” Rabbi Shaul Robinson told The Forward.

The donation is conditioned on the congregation raising a further $3 million by the end of April. The congregation received $500,000 toward that goal in just that past week since the challenge was made. The donation was announced publicly yesterday. Previous fundraising had added $7.2 million to the synagogue’s capital campaign.

The total cost of the building is now projected to be $43 million. That includes $3 million for a custom glass facade that has already won an architectural award.

The congregation raised a reported $18.5 million as part of land swap a few years ago with the owner of the Lincoln Towers complex, in which it acquired the new property, one block south of the building the synagogue built for itself in 1970. Since the land swap, the congregation has continued to meet in its original building, paying renting on the property to ensure its place there.

In the wake of last month’s suspension of construction, and the simultaneous resignation of the synagogue’s president, congregational leaders had spoken of seeking an organizational partner to help pay for, and fill, the new building.

Rabbi Robinson said that Lincoln Square Synagogue is no longer looking for partners interested in buying part of the building, but is interested in providing hosting to compatible organizations that might seek to use some of the space.

“We feel challenged to build the building and fill it with activities for the entire community, not just our congregation,” he said.



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