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Saving the City's Oldest Synagogue

January 09, 1988

Due to your article by Mathis Chazanov (Metro, Dec. 29), I have become aware of the controversy regarding the future of the Breed Street Shul (Synagogue).

My family were members of the shul until 1948, when we moved to the Westside. I was also a " yeshiva bocher " at the shul's yeshiva , being the second student to enroll after Aaron Zilberstein, Rabbi Osher Zilberstein's son. I spent many memorable hours in the environs of that wonderful old building.

When learning of the dilemma of the shul , I felt that the shul should most certainly be preserved and was interested in lending my efforts to that end. However, at first I confused the shul with the building and have since begun to realize that the building is not the shul .

I now believe if we save the building, we destroy the shul .

Although I have been schooled as an Orthodox Jew, I am not such, as orthodoxy conflicts with my beliefs and my life style; a life style that I am sometimes ashamed to admit as being highly material.

I believe that the fate of the shul is now being controlled by others who are not Orthodox Jews. They are materialistic, not spiritualistic, and, as such, these people can only see a "building" and not the essence of the building.

Orthodox Jews believe that once a building has been sanctified as a shul that building cannot be used for any other purpose. Who are we to destroy the very root beginnings of our faith for the sake of preserving a building?

I believe we should leave the fate of the shul to those who gave it to us--the orthodoxy.

STANLEY M. BLOCK

Encino

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