Community Center of Israel


Mid Century Modern decoration of a Pelham Gardens synagogue. Community Center of Israel was founded in the fifties and expanded in 1961. It’s rather pareve (bland), not overtly religious name hints at the fact that many of the suburban synagogues opened for the Baby Boomer generation framed themselves as much as community centers as places of worship. (Israel, as in the Children of Israel, was sometimes used as an alternative phrase for “Jewish.” With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the use of the phrase became somewhat archaic.)

When I was a student at Bar-Ilan University, I had lunch with a roommate’s father. It turns out that he grew up in the Bronx and went to this synagogue before his family moved to Miami. Later I found out he was part of a Facebook group of former synagogue members who enjoyed reminiscing about the Community Center of Israel. Unfortunately, there no longer seems to be enough of a congregation to support the Community Center of Israel and maintain it’s rather large building. It is a matter of time before it is repurposed, perhaps as a charter school or cultural center.

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