As its membership rolls decline and the cost of maintenance mounts, a Manhattan synagogue is planning on selling its century-old building for a whopping $34 million.
“It’s a really extraordinary spiritual practice to go through as a community — to let go of something to which we’re really lovingly attached, for the sake of growth,” Rabbi Jonah Geffen, the spiritual leader of Shaare Zedek, told The New York Times. “And to go through those things together, that’s part of the reason people are engaged in religious communities anyway.”
The Conservative synagogue, which has shrunk to under 100 families, will sell its neoclassical 1920s building on West 93rd Street to a developer who will construct a 14-story tower with condominiums. The congregation will occupy the first three floors of the building.
While the congregation said that it’s a necessary move considering the huge cost of maintenance, some in the community are worried about overcrowding and historic preservation. They have filed a lawsuit, which has so failed in state court.
“I’m surprised that the board of trustees and congregation doesn’t really value the history and beauty of the building enough to find a different kind of resolution for the problems they’re facing,” community activist Ronna Blaser told the Times.