Synagogue Donates Assets to Jewish Theological Seminary

A once flourishing synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx, which withered away after a super-highway destroyed the continuity of the neighborhood, has donated part of its remaining assets to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The formal presentation was made by Rabbi Sol M. Linowitz, former rabbi of the Jewish Center of University Heights, at a meeting several days ago of the Seminary’s Board of Overseers.

Rabbi Linowitz was officially installed as chairman of the Seminary Overseers, a post formerly held by former US Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg and the late Sen. Herbert H. Lehman. The donated funds are earmarked for the Seminary’s Student Center in Jerusalem, according to the announcement by the Seminary.

The decline and demise of the Jewish Center of University Heights which was founded 52 years ago followed a pattern that has become familiar in New York and other American cities. The Center had its beginnings in rented quarters and in 1922 laid the cornerstone for a synagogue and school. Its membership grew to 600 and its Hebrew school, with seven grades and a registration of 300 children, was considered one of the finest in the city.

But in 1963, construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway caused the demolition of many residential buildings and severed the neighborhood. Congregants began moving away, to be replaced largely by non-Jews. By 1968, membership had fallen so low that the officers felt the Center was serving no useful purpose and decided to sell the building and disband. The $100,000 in assets were divided between the Seminary and the new Conservative Congregation in Co-Op City in another part of the Bronx where many of the Center’s dislocated families had moved.

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