Your article, “The Tricks of the Trade Shuls” (Oct. 30), showed a true slice of New York City Jewish history. I grew up in the Fur Center Synagogue as my late father, Rabbi Samuel Blech, led that congregation for more than 40 years, until his death in 1986. He was hired as a newly ordained rabbi by the furriers and helped to raise the funds to move their minyan from above a candy store to the building at 230 W. 29th St.
The furriers broke ground in 1964 and the shul was their pride and joy. There were 12 beautiful stained glass windows and the congregation held cantorial concerts annually, boasting the biggest names of chazzanim and Yiddish singers performing. The furriers wanted an Orthodox synagogue in keeping with their family traditions even though they didn’t attend Shabbos services and drove in for all the holidays when Yizkor was recited.
The shul was full on the High Holidays and my father used to recite Yizkor several times after the services to help accommodate all the people who came from near and far. My father was a powerful speaker who would captivate his audience with his insights and his humor.
On the weekends, the shul was one of three local synagogues that serviced the local Penn South Chelsea community. Getting a minyan on Shabbos was tricky in the winter months with the elderly local community, but people would come out if they got the call and knew they were being counted on — and that there would be a sumptuous Kiddush waiting.
An era gone but not forgotten.