The New York Synagogue, a Modern Orthodox congregation on Manhattan’s East Side that opened in a rented space three years ago as an affiliate of The Hampton Synagogue on Long Island, has purchased the building on East 58th Street where it has met, and will renovate the site into a full-time synagogue in about a year.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, senior rabbi of both upscale congregations, said a $24 million contract for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s 25,000-square foot, six-story, neo-Georgian building at 122-24 E. 58th St. was signed last month. Shabbat services there will continue to meet in the auditorium until the society moves out next year, and extensive renovations, whose cost are estimated at $11 million, will begin in late 2007 or late 2008.
"We’ll virtually have to rebuild the whole building," Rabbi Schneier said. "The only thing we’re keeping is the facade."
The rabbi said The New York Synagogue is the "first Ashkenazic Orthodox" congregation to build its own building in Manhattan in the last 50 years.
Rabbi Schneier, son of Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Upper East Side’s Park East Synagogue, has established an independent reputation for establishing two congregations and other institutions that feature an open-minded approach to Jewish tradition and attract a wealthy crowd.
An expanded sanctuary in The New York Synagogue will hold 500 worshippers, he said; some 350 come to Shabbat morning services each week. "It’s always been capacity."
Other building plans for the synagogue (it will be open year-round and will be served by members of the rabbinic team who work there and at the Hampton Synagogue) include space for a ballroom, theater and catering facilities.
Programming at The New York Synagogue will be expanded to parallel the lectures and variety of educational-cultural activities offered at The Hampton Synagogue, which is "like a mini-Y," the rabbi said.
Participants in New York Synagogue activities include congregants from The Hampton Synagogue who also have Manhattan residences, workers from the borough’s nearby business and commercial district, and visitors from nearby hotels.
The New York Synagogue, whose worshippers are primarily from its immediate neighborhood, will not be in competition with Park East Synagogue, 10 blocks away, the rabbi said. "Fifty-eighth Street and 68th Street are two entirely different worlds. We are serving a very different demographic."