, the only reconstructionist temple on the south shore, will soon sell its building on Franklin Avenue in Hewlett and move to a new location, according to its rabbi.
With more and more Orthodox Jews moving to the Five Towns, other denominations in the area have suffered, and Rabbi Elliot Skiddell said the congregation at its current size could not support the current temple building.
“This is something that we’ve been talking about for quite a while with all the changes in our area,” he said. “The building was built about 50 years ago with a significantly larger community in mind. Given the demography of the area, it’s just too much for a smaller congregation. By selling the building, we can create an endowment fund that will allow us to continue into the future.”
While the congregation is still awaiting approval from the attorney general on the sale of its building (the attorney general has to approve sales of religious buildings), it has not decided where its new temple will be. Skiddell said he hopes to remain in the Five Towns or move to an adjacent area.
Years ago, Temple Sinai of Long Island, a reform synagogue on Washington Avenue in Lawrence, moved out of that location and merged with another temple to form in Lynbrook. Only a handful of non-Orthodox temples remain in the Five Towns area: , in Woodmere, in Cedarhurst and the Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre.
Skiddell would not identify the potential buyer of the temple building, but he did say it is not a Jewish organization.
“It will be a nice addition to the community and will be offering programs to the community that they serve,” he said.
It will be months until the attorney general reaches a decision on the transaction, at which point members of the congregation will decide where to move.
“There will be an appropriate and proper sendoff for people to share their memories of 36 Franklin Place and their dreams and aspirations going forward,” Skiddell said.
While the rabbi said the decision to sell the building was not easy, the proceeds will allow Beth Emeth to offer new programs and activities.
“Everyone feels tremendously energized and boosted up by the new possibilities before us,” Skiddell said. “I hope people check us out in our new home.”