Fur Center Synagogue Memories


Your article, “The Tricks of the Trade Shuls” (Oct. 30), showed a
true slice of New York City Jewish history. I grew up in the Fur Center Synagogue as
my late father, Rabbi Samuel Blech, led that congregation for more than 40 years, until his death in 1986. He was hired as a newly ordained rabbi by the
furriers and helped to raise the funds to move their minyan from above a
candy store to the building at 230 W. 29th St.

The furriers broke ground
in 1964 and the shul was their pride and joy. There were 12 beautiful
stained-glass windows and the congregation held
cantorial concerts annually, boasting the biggest names of chazanim and
Yiddish singers performing. The furriers wanted an Orthodox synagogue in
keeping with their family traditions even though they didn’t attend Shabbos
services and drove in for all the holidays when Yizkor was recited.

The shul
was full on the High Holidays and my father used to recite Yizkor
several times after the services to help accommodate all the people who came
from near and far. 
My father was a powerful speaker who would captivate his audience with his
insights and his humor. 

On the weekends, the shul was one of three local synagogues that serviced the local
Penn South Chelsea community. Getting a minyan on Shabbos was tricky in the
winter months with the elderly local community, but people would come out if
they got the call and knew they were being counted on — and that there would be
a sumptuous Kiddush waiting.

An era gone
but not forgotten.