I walk past Central Synagogue on Lexington Avenue and East 55th Street in Manhattan at least five times a week on my way to catch the 6 train to my office downtown. It is a magnificent building designed in the Moorish Revival style of architecture, but like so many buildings in the city we pass as we walk, it could be easily skipped as one races through the paces of working and living in New York City.
A little history…..This is the oldest synagogue building in continuous use in New York City. The building was designed by Henry Fernbach and dedicated in 1872 as the new home of the Ahawath Chesed (Love of Mercy) congregation. This congregation was reformed and they instituted many daring and innovative traditions, primarily among them was allowing men and women to sit together…HALLELUJAH!
Many, many years ago an old friend of mine got married there to another old friend of mine (a marriage long ago dissolved in the divorce courts), but since then I have never been inside. I can actually see the twin gold leaf and bright blue turrets that top the structure from several of the suites in the hotel where I live (and also do a lot of work for various clients.) I have been dying for a long time to get a peek inside again, my memory of the beauty of the place being exceptional.
Lo and behold , as fortune would have it, the front door of the building was ajar today and, without hesitating a moment, I grabbed my associate by the arm and dragged him literally inside. Get ready to open your belt a notch and begin to feast your eyes on some of the most ‘scrumptious’ detailing in a house of worship you may ever see. I mean everything looked so yummy I didn’t know what to photograph first!
It is a truly grand building with an OMG inside. Interestingly enough, it looks more like a church than a temple, which I found fascinating. But the icing on the cake was the non-stop detailing to be found everywhere one looked.
If you can make the time, stop by Tuesdays for the free organ concerts … the huge organ is a Casavant electro-pneumatic organ … and renowned organists from around the world come to play there weekly. Or try and make one of the Wednesday afternoon docent guided tours.
I promise you, you won’t walk away hungry!
Ciao, ciao ’til Monday!