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Historic East Village Synagogue to Resume Services After Four-Year Closure

By Allegra Hobbs | February 20, 2017 2:47pm
 The Adas Yisroel Anshe Meseritz synagogue is located at 415 E. 6th St.
The Adas Yisroel Anshe Meseritz synagogue is located at 415 E. 6th St.
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DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs

EAST VILLAGE — A historic synagogue that shuttered for several years while its upper levels underwent a luxury condo conversion will hold its first prayer service at the beginning of March.

The Adas Yisroel Anshe Meseritz synagogue at 415 E. 6th St. will finally open its doors again after a four-year hiatus to allow for extensive renovations and the partial transformation of the property into a trio of condos — part of a million-dollar deal brokered with a developer that has allowed the tiny house of worship to stay afloat.

The synagogue in 2013 signed over its upper levels to East River Partners LLC for a condominium conversion in order to retain the ground floor and basement level — as part of the roughly $1,225,000 deal, the developer also carried out renovations on the crumbling synagogue space.

The three condominiums housed inside the synagogue’s upper levels — including a sprawling $4.395 million penthouse — hit the market in September 2016.

On Friday, the synagogue will celebrate its reopening, while its first evening prayer service in roughly four years will be held on March 1, according to the representatives.

Beloved Rabbi Paul Ackerman, who served as the head of the congregation for more than four decades, didn't live to see the synagogue's second life — he died months after the deal was made, leaving the century-old structure in the hands of the synagogue board.

The deceased rabbi's son, Sandy Ackerman, now serves as vice president and secretary of that board, and says the historic structure’s restoration would have made his father proud.

“I’m happy for my dad — my father would have loved this,” said Sandy Ackerman. 

“We so much wanted him to be the first person walking though the door, and that’s not the case. But I am doing this in his honor.”

The renovations brought much needed improvements to the house of worship, said Ackerman. The roof had been leaking, he said, and the building is also now affixed with air conditioning and is wheelchair accessible. The landmarked exterior has also been refurbished, he said.

When services finally commence again inside the 107-year-old structure, Rabbi Kalman Nochlin will be filing the shoes of the elder Ackerman — a prospect the new rabbi says is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

“I know I am filling the shoes of a person who was renowned for his character,” said Nochlin, a longtime Lower East Side resident who teaches Judaic Studies at the Yeshiva of Flatbush. “He was known as a person who was accepting of others, was known on the streets as someone who was welcoming.”

Nochlin says he is thrilled to carry on Ackerman’s legacy while nurturing a new congregation at the reborn synagogue. 

And while the leadership position will mark his first time serving as a full-time congregational rabbi, Nochlin said he had served as rabbi in the summer months for the Congregation Chasm Sopher on Clinton Street in the Lower East Side for roughly 15 years. He also hopes to bring his passion as an educator to the position, he said.

“I love education — it really gives me a feeling of energy and of vitality,” said Nochlin. “For the most part, my days are dedicated to Judaic Studies, and I feel this position will give me an opportunity to reach out to others in an educational ways, and that to me is a very exciting prospect.”

The renovated interior of the synagogue will be unveiled for the first time at noon on Feb. 24, said Ackerman, noting the redone space will blend elements of the century-old synagogue's history with new furnishings.