1930s Synagogue Going Once, Going Twice...

By Shoshanah Olidort

Published December 30, 2005, issue of December 30, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Synagogue, anyone? On eBay, an old, neglected Jewish house of worship in upstate New York is up for bids.

The White Sulphur Springs Jewish Community Center Synagogue dates back to the 1930s. Back then it served a thriving community of Jewish families escaping the city for summer vacations. But the synagogue has been out of commission for several years now. And when auctioneers Peter and Don Nocerino bought it on a tax sale, the place was a mess.

The brothers Nocerino donated the sacred books and scrolls to a nearby synagogue and hoped to restore the structure.

Eventually, though, they decided to sell.

“It’s a great piece,” Nocerino told the Forward, saying that he feels bad about selling it, but hopes it falls into the right hands. So far, Nocerino has not heard from any potential Jewish buyers. But on a site like eBay, he said, there is a greater likelihood that Jewish buyers will surface.

“I would like to see this property get a nice owner who would preserve its character,” Nocerino said, pointing to the synagogue’s stained-glass windows and original brass fixtures as examples of what makes the structure unique in this small town. White Sulphur Springs’ Jewish community is too small to sustain a synagogue.

But Karen Franklin, director of the Judaica Museum of the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale, sees this as part of a general trend — one she explored in an exhibition, “Culture as Commodity,” which she organized several years ago. The exhibition featured a full range of Judaica items, or items listed as such — from Israeli Coca-Cola T-shirts to vintage seltzer bottles — purchased from sites like eBay, exploring the effect of Internet auctions on Judaica collecting.

Of the synagogue auction, Franklin said, “It’s really the ultimate statement of culture as commodity.”

Sites like eBay have been “changing the marketplace for Judaica” for a while now, Franklin said. But, she quickly added, auctioning off a synagogue “takes this to another level.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • 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.