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Beth Elohim Wins 250K Preservation Grant

Park Slope synagogue will use funds to restore building, says rabbi

Marc Tracy
May 22, 2012
Congregation Beth Elohim.(Megasus/Flickr)
Congregation Beth Elohim.(Megasus/Flickr)

Beating out such bold-faced-names as the Guggenheim, the High Line, and the Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim won second place in the recent National Trust for Historic Preservation/American Express contest. As a result, it is one of three institutions that will receive a $250,000 grant, which, as Rabbi Andy Bachman told me last month, it will use to restore its building, including an old stained-glass window. Though there were a couple of other vaguely Jewish-themed finalists, including the Erasmus Hall campus and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, CBE was the only synagogue.

“We’re gonna sink it right into the restoration that we’re doing,” Bachman told me this morning. “I’ll save a trip to Vegas for later in the year.” He credited his congregation’s victory to widespread interest in historic preservation, the strength of its community, and CBE’s status as nearly as much a community center as a synagogue. A Presbyterian church that will begin using CBE’s space next month pushed the contest, which was voted on by the public, on its own email lists, he noted.

“When the founders built it in 1909, they adorned it with the words from Isaiah, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer for all people,’” he added.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.