Syrian Jews find home on Upper East Side

December 18, 2012 05:30PM

Once centered in the downtown enclave of Little Syria in Lower Manhattan, then relocated to Gravesend, Brooklyn in the years leading up to World War II, the Syrian Sephardic Jewish community is now finding its way back to Manhattan — specifically the Upper East Side, Tablet Magazine reported.

Take, for example, the soon-to-be-developed Moise Safra Community Center. Demolition on three adjoining East 82nd Street townhouses will begin in January to give way to the 12-story, $50 million project. The property will include a Sephardic synagogue for Syrian Jewish families living in the area, which was the onetime center of Manhattan German Jewish life. The townhouses were purchased between February 2010 and October 2011 for a combined price of $14.8 million, according to Curbed.

The community center is slated to open in 2014 and will have a kosher café, a two-level banquet hall with terrace space outside and an exercise room, to name a few amenities.

Its synagogue will be the second in the neighborhood; the first was the Congregation Edmond J. Safra, located at 11 East 63rd Street between Madison and Fifth avenues. Roughly ten years since it opened, the congregation now serves 1,500 families — with the recent growth in attendees coming from Brooklynites who have moved to Manhattan.

Additionally, Elie Abadie, the rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra synagogue, who is also behind the community center project, opened a preschool in 2011 called the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan. Abadie sought to lure young parents — undecided about staying in Brooklyn — out to Manhattan. [Tablet]Zachary Kussin