Hit by Sandy, Jewish Congregation in Rockaways Finds Renewed Faith in Trailer

West End Temple Still Faces Long Road to Recovery

Haunting Sight: Nearly six months after Sandy, the West End Temple in the Rockaways is still holding services in  a trailer in its parking lot.
claudio papapietro
Haunting Sight: Nearly six months after Sandy, the West End Temple in the Rockaways is still holding services in a trailer in its parking lot.

By Seth Berkman

Published April 07, 2013, issue of April 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 5)

Few mementoes of the once vibrant synagogue can be seen inside the ruined building. The rabbi’s office was once lined with file cabinets full of documents, but now it is dark and empty, with lights hanging from wires. The kitchen, where banquet meals were once prepared, is barren of food items. Even the American flag in front of the building is tattered and worn, looking as if it had done battle.

The building is still months away from being usable, even if the repairs go according to plan.

Meanwhile, the cost of operating the trailer is a huge burden on the small congregation. UJA-Federation of New York and the Union for Reform Judaism helped pay to install the facility: The URJ has already disbursed $29,403 to West End and pledged a total of $90,000 for the synagogue. But the high costs of running such a small space have been unexpected. For example, Slome estimated that it costs almost $600 per month just to operate the bathroom.

Still, the members all say they are certain the congregation will survive and that they are looking forward to moving back into their old building.

Slome is dreaming of bigger and better things. Once the synagogue is rebuilt, she hopes to reach out to the broader Jewish community of the Rockaway Peninsula by diversifying the programming. Several local Jewish congregations have not reopened since the storm struck.

“Our building is a jewel,” said Slome, who added that the synagogue used to host meetings of the Girl Scouts and Weight Watchers, among other community groups. “It is a diamond in the really, really rough right now. But we need to look at ways to make our building meet the needs of the local community, especially the Jewish community.”


At the end of the recent Sabbath service, the congregation sang “Adir Hu.” Originally, Slome planned to hand out copies of the lyrics to each member, but there wasn’t a working photocopy machine. Instead, the lyrics were written on a large yellow pad and hung on the wall.

Marsha Weber announced upcoming services and programs and where they would be held — each ending with the phrase “in the trailer.” A chorus of laughter grew with each mention of the term.

Cynthia and Bob Hellerman said the Spartan surroundings did not matter to them. They were even intrigued to see how the synagogue was managing in the makeshift space.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.