Kudos to Avi Mitzner for breaking new ground as Shearith Prime visited New York City! It was the perfect combination of planned activities and free time to do your own thing.
Friday night started with services at the beautiful B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue. B’nai Jeshurun, a nearly 200 year old non-affiliated synagogue, which was conveniently located walking distance from the Lucerne Hotel, where we stayed. The beauty of the architecture in this historic space transported us to feeling like we might be in Morocco. The 100+ Shabbat attendees belies the warmth of this congregation, which included a chain of dancing which broke out during the service. We were eager participants in the dancing.
Services were followed by a fantastic dinner at Talia's Steakhouse, which appealed to both foodies and those who keep kosher. We had nearly the entire restaurant to ourselves and the four-course meal was Mediterranean-influenced and it was much more than we could finish.
Saturday morning we attended services at Romemu, an intimate and hamish congregation that welcomed us with open arms and honored Avi with a Torah reading. The service was supplemented with music including drums and singing and the vibe was filled with ruach. After services was a delicious kiddush lunch of bagels, lox, tuna salad, egg salad, fresh fruit and baked goods. Rabbi David Ingber, the rabbi at Romemu shared his story which led him to Romemu as well as his vision. He also engaged in a Q & A with us.
The remainder of Saturday was free time. Everyone was on their own to explore the city, visit family or friends, or just get some rest.
On Sunday, we met at the Longacre Theatre and posed for a quick group photo before seeing Leopoldstadt, a play set among the Jewish community of Vienna in the first half of the 20th century and follows the lives of a prosperous Jewish family who fled the pogroms.
All of the activities were walking distance, so getting around was easy and flexible for those moving on a different schedule than the majority.
It was an action packed couple of days, but the schedule was flexible to allow free time to connect with family or friends or just do your own thing while visiting New York City. Many people also either arrived early or stayed late to catch a few extra Broadway shows. We are happy to see that this trip appealed to a new group of Shearith Primers that had not previously participated in our Prime programming, but we do hope to see more of them.
A BIG THANK YOU to Avi Mitzner for conceiving the idea for this trip, working hard to find unique experiences for us to enjoy and accommodating special requests - like extra tickets for local friends and family to join us for the show. It was a tremendous success.
Written by Melanie Morris
A supplemental note from Avi:
A big thank you to Rabbi Roffman for bringing this idea to me and for helping me bring this to fruition.
Shearith Israel clergy, staff and congregants share