Excerpt from “Rejoice”: Yism’Khu (They Shall Rejoice)
Park East Synagogue
|Park East Synagogue, Congregation Zichron Ephraim|
|U.S.National Register of Historic Places|
|Location||163 East 67th Street, New York City|
|Architect||Schneider & Herter|
|Architectural style||Byzantine Revival,Moorish Revival,Romanesque Revival|
|Governing body||Congregation Zichron Ephraim|
|NRHP Reference #||83001738|
|Added to NRHP||August 18, 1983|
|Designated NYCL||January 8, 1980|
The architects were Schneider and Herter who designed numerous tenements on New York’s Lower East Side as well as Hell’s Kitchenneighborhoods. The building is similar to other synagogues built at the time which were in the Moorish Revival style that also featured a prominent Rose Window. One of the most remarkable characteristics is the asymmetrical twin towers with the eastern tower being taller (most other synagogues of the period featured twin towers of similar height). The towers are also adorned differently. Each of the towers originally were also topped by a bulbous dome which have since been removed. It is one of fewer than a hundred surviving nineteenth-century American synagogues.
Rabbi Drachman served as spiritual leader for fifty-one years. He died in 1945. Zev Zahavy was appointed rabbi of the synagogue on September 1, 1952. He was known as a dynamic spokesman for Orthodox Judaism. More than 200 of his sermons were reported on in the New York Times. He and his wife Edith, a noted educator, founded the Park East Day School. On March 16, 1957, Robert Briscoe, the Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, carrying his Talis bag from Dublin visited and prayed at the synagogue on Shabbas morning.
Since 1962, the synagogue’s rabbi has been Arthur Schneier. The Assistant Rabbi (since August 2006), Rabbi Evan Hoffman, delivered a well-attended Wednesday evening Bible class. In 2011, Rabbi Hoffman was succeeded by Rabbi Binyamin Lehrfield. Rabbi Einsidler is the religious spiritual organizer, his wife Toby is the dynamic office and youth leader. The synagogue’s Chief Cantor is Yitzchak Meir Helfgotand its Cantor is Benny Rogosnitzky.
In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI visited the synagogue in the midst of a visit to New York City. This was the third papal visit to a synagogue, and the only such visit in the United States of America. The Pope was given a box of matzahs and a silver Seder plate (it was almost Passoverwhen the visit occurred); members of both the Catholic and Jewish religions wore their respective skullcaps.