Letters | Gabbing about Gershman


Gershman’s Departure Highlights Need for Center City JCC

Liz Spikol’s article is not merely nostalgic (“Goodbye, Gershman Y: Arts Org to Move, Change its Name,” May 24). Its closure is a lost opportunity for the Jewish community to engage with the swelling numbers of Jews living in Center City.

Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., I was lucky enough to belong to a synagogue with a basketball court and a pool. For families who didn’t care much for religious ritual, Tuesday and Thursday night pickup games were a reasonable substitute.

A JCC-like facility is sorely needed downtown. Such institutions serve practical functions, further engagement and offer a successful model for cross-denominational intersections.

Geoff Neimark | Philadelphia

Gershman Congregation Also Moving On

I’d like to point out something that was missing in the article about the Gershman Y (“Goodbye, Gershman Y: Arts Org to Move, Change its Name,” May 24). The Gershman Y Congregation was established in 1927, two years after the building was opened. The congregation has had its ups and downs and, in 2000, a group of people joined the Y Congregation to continue the then-disbanding Center City Havurah Minyan’s tradition of providing egalitarian, lay-led services to Center City residents.

The congregation, renamed Minyan Sulam Yaakov, stopped holding regular Shabbat services in 2014, but continued to hold free High Holiday services open to the entire community, and we expect to present those services one last time this September.

There is history in the chapel where we have held services; the walls are filled with plaques honoring the memories of members back to the 1930s. The place where they (and we) worshipped will no longer function as a sanctuary. Most of the history of the Y, and the congregation, has been lost to time and long-past shortsighted management. The Center City Jewish community of today and the future will be much poorer for this.

Alan Rothenberg | Philadelphia


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