+ Save the Mesertiz Ark

This is a real life story in b’shert (destiny) that is happening right now.

It began two months ago when we started our Ark campaign to create an Ark for our Torah scroll.

Last week, I received an email from an architect named Jason Friedman who lives downtown and joined us for the High Holidays. His firm was hired to evaluate a condo conversion of a Land-marked building on the Lower East Side at 415 East 6th St.

Mes Ark The building happens to house the Mezritch Synagogue – one of the last remaining tenement shuls in Lower Manhattan. Jason called for help to find a home for their Ark, dating back to 1910. Otherwise, the Ark would be taken by Demolition Depot, along with the history of the shul.

I went to meet the 85-year-old Rabbi of the shul, Pesach Ackerman, and his son Sandy last week to see if we could help. The Ark is two stories high, hand carved, stunning. A relic from the old world as you can see from the pictures I took with my iPhone. They told me that the Attorney General recently approved the conversion and they need to be out of the space by May 1. Was there anything we could do to help? They did not want the Ark to be gone forever.

As it happens, one of our members, Salvo Stoch, runs a company called, “Found Objects” which travels the world finding unique furniture and gallery items and brings them to market in the West. Salvo came to evaluate the Ark. Could it be safely extracted and stored properly? Could we retrofit it for our own Ark? It would take time and effort, but he gave it an enthusiastic, yes.

More than a coincidence? It’s not every day in New York that a new synagogue like Tamid opens in the same year that an historic one closes.

photo-5Giving new life to our ancient tradition, being historical caretakers, and creating Jewish roots in Tribeca, Battery Park City, FIDI, and the West Village – just as our ancestors at Mezritch and other shuls did on the Lower East Side five generations ago – is what we are all about. This, in a word, is b’shert (destiny).

Here’s where you come in. This Sunday morning at 9:30, come to the Mezritch synagogue. Bring yourselves and your kids to meet the Ark and see it in it’s original location before it gets dismantled. I’ll offer a brief history of the Jews from the original Town of Mezritch, Poland, talk about life on the old Jewish Lower East Side, and then we’ll take down a few pieces of the Ark and prepare them for storage. It’s a once in a lifetime moment, let’s capture it together.

Mezritch OutsideWe started our Ark campaign two months ago. We now have a real Ark that needs our support to reclaim, restore, and renew it. If you are able to support this historic moment with a financial contribution, please click here to help us save the Mezritch Ark.

We will keep you posted on our progress via our blogs and Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday,


PS. The image to the left is the facade of the Mezritch Synagogue, 415 E. 6th St. between 1st and Ave A.

PPS. If you know of a documentary film maker who might like to preserve this story, please let me know.