Shluchim Open First Shul On The Bowery
A former Deadhead couple who found religion and became Hasidic Jews are set to open what will be the only synagogue on the Bowery — a stone’s throw from where the Ramones’ favorite punk club, CBGB, once stood ● “CBGB was the hub of punk-rock culture, driven by passion, excitement and energy — an energy that’s an expression of spiritual thirst,” said Lubavitch Rabbi Dov Yonah Korn
. “Two blocks north, we’re harnessing that energy in a Jewish way” ● Full Story, Building Plans
New York Post
20 Shvat 5772 (13.02.2012)
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
A former Deadhead couple who found religion and became Hasidic Jews are set to open what will be the only synagogue on the Bowery — a stone’s throw from where the Ramones’ favorite punk club, CBGB, once stood.
Lubavitch Rabbi Dov Yonah Korn and wife Sarah say it is divine providence that the 7,800-square-foot space they bought a year and a half ago at 353 Bowery is just two blocks from the legendary-but-now-shuttered club.
“CBGB was the hub of punk-rock culture, driven by passion, excitement and energy — an energy that’s an expression of spiritual thirst,” said Korn, 33. “Two blocks north, we’re harnessing that energy in a Jewish way.”
Their Chabad Serving NYU synagogue — whose $8.3 million price tag was paid for by donations from hundreds of past and present NYU students — is in a commercial section of a condo building that’s also home to Grammy winner John Legend.
CBGB shut its doors in 2006 as the Bowery’s seedy character was being transformed by upscale restaurants and luxury condos — and now, a synagogue.
“The Bowery used to be a place you wouldn’t walk around at night,” Sarah Korn said. “But now it’s safe, it’s hip, and it needs a shul.”
Though never big fans of the Ramones, Rabbi Korn and his wife were once diehard Deadheads who met as teenagers at a concert and hit it off.
”I was a young Jew searching for something more, listening to the Grateful Dead and being influenced by that culture,” Rabbi Korn said.
Eventually the couple found a home among the Crown Heights-based Lubavitch Hasidim, and Korn became a rabbi. He and Sarah moved to the Bowery, and in 2002 they started running a small basement synagogue for NYU students.
The new facility’s “Bowery-esque” design would make Joey Ramone kvell: The lofty space — which includes a 2,000-square-foot events hall and a library — has exposed beams and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The walls, made from Jerusalem stone, add a touch of warmth and tradition.
Jewish East Villagers and NYU students alike will be welcome when the space opens later this winter, Rabbi Korn said.
Orthodox East Village residents such as Ari Grazi say Chabad Serving NYU is a godsend.
The 24-year-old Internet startup entrepreneur, who moved to the neighborhood six years ago, said he and others would eventually have packed off to Jewish-oriented neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side if Rabbi Korn hadn’t come along.
“We need the energy here. We thrive on the culture and arts the East Village brings. But to not have the shul here is not an option,” Grazi said.