Elmont Jewish Center: 64 years in the making

Center to host Yom Hashoah April 18


The year 1948 was a tragic time for people of Jewish faith — that year, citizens worldwide acknowledged the Holocaust. Additionally, that year, the Elmont Jewish Center was founded, becoming a place of worship for members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

Originally operated at a storefront in Elmont, before moving to its current location on Elmont Road, members of the congregation practice an Orthodox brand of Judaism at the center on Saturday mornings. Different than that of a reformed or conservative Jewish faith, members believe in a more traditional style of prayer and reflection — a style that has transcended eras of worship.

Led by Rabbi Chaim Blachman of the Lubovitch Orthodox in Springfield Gardens, services at the EJC are conducted in a traditional style. The Torah is removed by 10 men, in a practice known as “minyan,” before it’s read in Hebrew. A kiddush follows religious services, allowing for an informal setting for community members to talk about scripture over refreshments.

Over the years, the center’s membership has diminished, from several hundred to nearly 70, and the congregation has shifted to more of a senior group. It’s currently made up of two types of members — associates, who are active members who have moved out of the community, and congregates, members who practice weekly and still live in the community.

All EJC members regularly pay dues to help sustain the center. In addition to regular membership, the center maintains a very active sisterhood, currently comprised of includes 62 women who attend monthly meetings and raise money through fundraising efforts.

“We have always been a warm and welcoming community and are hoping to attract new and younger members to join our congregation and practice with us here at the Center,” said Sandy Fox, president of the EJC Sisterhood.

Fox said the EJC also offers a lively Adult Education program, hosting a variety of events. Recently, the center held a lecture by Professor J. Dorinson on “Jewish comedians and how they honed their craft in the Catskills.”

On April 18, the center will be hosting Yom Hashoah, a day for remembering the Holocaust, along with five other local communities, at the Valley Stream Jewish Center.

“We actually still have a couple of congregates who are true survivors of the Holocaust,” Fox added.

The center recently celebrated one of its most important holidays of the year, the feast of Passover, a week-long commemoration of the freeing of the ancient Israelite slaves from Egypt.

The Elmont Jewish Center holds a monthly Torah Study Seminar on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m., in the center’s Kiddish room. For more information on the seminar, call (516) 488-1616.