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!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • 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.