The Orthodox Jewish community in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood was having trouble finding a place to convene their weekly prayer services. So they set up shop in a drug store.
But Dichter Pharmacy, a community staple for more than seven decades, is not your average Duane Reade or Walgreens. Dichter’s, located in upper Manhattan at 207th St. and Broadway, is also home to many eclectic activities, including art exhibitions, monthly poetry slams, and a pre-school. This, however, is the first time prayer services will be added to the pharmacy’s unconventional parade of activity. The weekly minyan will be hosted in the pharmacy’s basement, which previously housed a local funeral home’s embalming room.
“This is a pharmacy, but the business model is to become the central hub in the community,” pharmacy owner Manny Ramirez told the New York Daily News. “I am committed to growing the Jewish community. When I was growing up, everyone was mixing with everyone.”
Rabbi Herschel Hartz, the community’s young Orthodox rabbi, has high hopes for the new location.
“Part of Judaism is that you can make any place holy,” Hartz told the Daily News, adding that the community is continuing its efforts to establish a more permanent prayer space.
Shouldering the bustling Jewish hub of Washington Heights, Inwood is bound to continue growing. In fact, according to the article, the UJA Federation of New York recently named Manhattan’s four northernmost zip codes the fastest growing Jewish communities in the city.
Will there possibly soon be too many attendees to fit in the pharmacy’s basement? Dichter’s Ramirez thinks so. “New York is about to change,” he said.
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