New York’s oldest synagogue is having a hard time erecting a new building, as community groups on the Upper West Side file suit against a city agency to stop Shearith Israel’s planned expansion.
According to the suit filed against New York’s Board of Standards and Appeals – a body which oversees zoning issues – the agency only allowed the nine-story building to go forward because it’s a “institutionally biased administrative body which regularly rules in favor of real estate developers.”
Shearith Israel’s building would be the tallest mid-block structure on West 70th Street, and requires special permit from the city.
Controversially, the building will contain a community center and classes on the bottom floors, and expensive condos with park views on the top.
The neighborhood groups that filed the suit have claimed that Shearith Israel is committing a “fraud” by using the need for more congregational space as an excuse to rake in money through pricey real estate sales.
Shearith Israel was founded by Portuguese and Spanish immigrants to New York in the late 1600s, and is now led by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.
Daniel J. Solomon is the former Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.
Neighbors Sue NYC Agency Over UWS Synagogue Expansion