Shul Shunned: A local synagogue located on a residential block was denied the support of Community Board 15 last night, as neighbors lined up during the Board’s meeting to decry the shul’s proposal to expand.
Congregation Kozover Zichron Chaim Shloime currently takes up two residential homes at 1782 and 1784 East 28th Street, between Quentin Road and Avenue R. Leaders from the synagogue came to request the Board’s approval for a plan to legalize a structure that has illegally connected the two buildings for nearly 20 years, and to expand the rear of the building to add a women’s prayer sanctuary. A representative for the owner said that the facility served 200 local families. Because women and men are separated for prayer services, the building no longer has the space to accommodate their flock, and women have stopped attending. The proposal would provide the space they need to serve the congregation, the representative said.
Neighbors, though, rattled off complaints about the building’s owners, saying that congregants often caused traffic and blocked driveways, the building has been illegally altered without regard for safety, is out of character with the rest of the block, and is a general detriment to their quality of life.
Joe Melfi, whose 85-year-old disabled mother has lived in an adjacent attached house for 40 years, pleaded with the Board to join his neighbors in opposing the shul’s plans.
“My mother and my father, who’ve been in this community 40 years, chose that house to raise five children, raise 14 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. They worked their lives as a longshoreman and a seamstress … and all my mother wants is to spend her twilight years, her golden years in that house,” Melfi said. “How she is possibly not going to have her quality of life affected by this level of construction, I don’t think it’s humanly possible. And anyone voting for this proposed initiative needs to consider that, and consider the responsibility of my mother in that situation.”