2002-05-25 / Editorial/Opinion

Put Money Where It Is Needed Most

Put Money Where It Is Needed Most

The fire that destroyed the Derech Emunoh Synagogue last week was indeed a tragedy, both for its congregation and for the community as a whole. The synagogue, built in 1904 was a mainstay of that community for many years and many in the community have religious or emotional ties to the building. As part of the Request For Proposal (RFP) process, those who were interested in developing the Arverne Urban Renewal Area (AURA) were required to spend an unspecified amount of money to bring the building from substandard to standard. When the Arverne By The Sea developers won the lottery, they were mandated to undertake the renovation of that historic building. Now, however, that building is no more. The developers believe that the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will still require some sort of financial obligation on their part. We have moved, however, from spending a limited amount money to renovate an historic building to spending an unlimited amount of money to completely construct a new building for a very limited number of congregants. We believe that the community would be better served in light of the tragedy if the money were spent on the Addabbo Health Center instead. That facility is now smack in the middle of the AURA. It must move. It has found quarters at 6200 Beach Channel Drive, but that building needs massive work to make it ready for a state-of-the-art health center. That center addresses the needs of thousands of poor and middle-class residents each year. It is a matter of priorities. On one hand we have two dozen or so congregants who no longer have an historic synagogue to renovate. They want a new synagogue. On the other hand, we have thousands of patients who need medical care but whose building will soon be closed. Which expenditure is more compelling? I'll allow you to decide for yourselves. For us, however, the decision is a ground ball. The money should go to Addabbo for its new building.

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