With its twin copper-green domes, classical colonnades and stained glass windows framed by high arches, the East Midwood Jewish Center is not just a center for religious and community life. It could be protected as a building of great historical significance. The owners recently applied to the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation to protect the 1924 building at 1635 Ocean Ave. The synagogue combines early 20th century Renaissance Revival style architecture with 19th century Moorish details. Everything about it is beautiful, Rabbi Alvin Kass said. The sanctuary is absolutely awe-inspiring. Kass said that in addition to the architecture of the Conservative synagogue, the external grounds are exquisitely landscaped. He said that the premises provide many secular services to the community, including a steam room, catering facilities, a library, a gymnasium and a swimming pool. The nomination is to be presented to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at the next state Review Board meeting on March 24, according to Rep. Anthony Weiners communications director, Kathryn Prael. The East Midwood Jewish Center has been a synagogue and community center for the last eight decades. Weiner wrote a letter supporting the application to Bernadette Castro, Commissioner of Historic Preservation. The East Midwood Jewish Center is an irreplaceable and invaluable historical and cultural landmark, Weiner said. For the last 80 years the synagogue and community center have provided educational activities, religious instruction, sport events and social gatherings for Brooklyn residents. State and federal recognition will help the center to raise funds to preserve the building. A lot of renovation work is needed, Kass said, but declined to specify the details. But in May 2005, the grand ballroom had a complete renovation. There are approximately 60 properties listed on the state and national registers of Historic Place in New York City. Other listed synagogues include the Fort Greene Jewish Center, 210-211 Clermont Avenue, Temple Beth Elohim at Eighth Avenue and Garfield Place, the Zion Temple Family Worship Center in Stuyvesant Heights, and the Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes at 236 Kane Street. We are grateful to Representative Weiner for sending a letter of support to the Commissioner as did other politicians, said Gail Hammerman, president of the East Midwood Jewish Center. If the board approves the nomination, it will go to Castro for her review and signature for listing on the state register by early April. It would then go to the National Park Service, for review and listing on the National Register. That would happen by mid-June, Prael said.
©2006 Community News Group
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