“It used to be only singles, and then it became newlyweds, but for only one or two years,” said Elie Abadie, the entrepreneurial Mexico City-raised rabbi of the Safra synagogue.
“Now we have young families, and we have empty-nesters moving in, once their children have all married.” In 2011, Abadie launched a preschool, the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan, in an effort to anchor young parents torn between remaining and returning to Brooklyn, where the dominant Syrian community has invested heavily in schools and social services.
Upon arrival, women attendees get padlocks and men get keys.
Each time their hardware matches, its turned in for a new set of hardware and each person gets another raffle ticket for great prizes donated by local businessesor maybe even a date?
The standard iconography of Jewish Manhattan has always been Ashkenazic: pastrami at Katz’s, smoked salmon at Russ & Daughters, tenements and Judaica stores on the Lower East Side, Hasidic diamond dealers in Midtown.
Even with the growing popularity of Sephardic dishes on Upper West Side holiday tables, almost no one remembers that a Little Syria full of Ottoman Jews once thrived on Washington Street in Lower Manhattan—mainly because the entire community packed up and left for the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gravesend before the Second World War.
Next month, demolition is scheduled to begin on three adjoining townhouses along Manhattan’s East 82nd Street to make way for Abadie’s most ambitious project to date: a 12-story, million community center on East 82nd Street at Lexington Avenue.
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