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Flushing temple to house three wedded congregations

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"Three synagogues into one is unprecedented," said Mark Frelich, president of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism. "It's bringing new life to three synagogues."

The new synagogue will have 300 to 400 members, complete with a Hebrew school for children, adult education and a choir. The Israel Center of Conservative Judaism, located at 167-11 73 Ave. in Flushing, will be egalitarian, which means that women will enjoy equal rights in the congregation. There will be a whole calendar full of events.

The Conservative Synagogue of Jamaica Estates was searching for a new home with a synagogue that was compatible. Initially the group said it did not believe the Israel Center of Hillcrest Manor was the right fit because it was not egalitarian. But as it turned out, the Hillcrest Manor synagogue was interested in becoming egalitarian.

"We found a nice group of compatible people committed to being a conservative congregation in Queens," said Leah Scherer of the Conservative Synagogue of Jamaica Estates.

The Electchester Jewish Center congregation had declined to the point where it stopped having services a year ago and members went to the Hillcrest Manhor synagogue. Now Electchester will have a place of worship to call home.

"I think it's a great idea," said Adrienne Simons, chairman of the board for Electchester Jewish Center. "Under the circumstances of a declining Jewish population this was inevitable."

In January, the legal consolidation of the Jamaica Estates and Hillcrest Manor synagogues took place, giving birth to the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism. After the fact, the Electchester Jewish Center sought to join the merger and were accepted.

A ceremony celebrating the wedding of three conservative congregations was scheduled for June 13. The day's events will commence at the old Conservative Synagogue of Jamaica Estates building located at 182-69 Wexford Terrace in Jamaica Estates.

Following services at 7:30 a.m., members of the former Jamaica Estates synagogue will march two miles with a Torah scroll to Utopia Parkway and 73rd Avenue where they will join with members of the former Hillcrest Manor synagogue who will be holding one of their Torah scrolls.

From that point, the two scrolls will be walked down 73rd Avenue under a chupah, a Jewish wedding canopy, accompanied by klezmer musicians, to the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism building at 73rd Avenue and 168th Street. A third Torah scroll, escorted by members of the Electchester Jewish Center, will join the procession at that point.

On hand for the festivities will be numerous politicians, including Speaker of the City Council Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan), Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing); Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows); Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows); Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (d-Flushing).

Reach reporter Tommy Hallissey by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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