Conservancy Receives Major Gift from The David Berg Foundation to Launch Historic Synagogue Fund
UPDATE Fall 2011
David Berg Foundation Renews, Doubles Gift
The Conservancy received welcome news this week. The David Berg Foundation, which helped launch the Conservancy’s Jewish Heritage Fund in 2009 with a $100,000 grant, has renewed and doubled its gift. The Jewish Heritage Fund will now receive $200,000 to underwrite challenge grants of up to $75,000 for major synagogue restoration projects. In the last two years, the Jewish Heritage Fund has awarded four grants totaling $170,000 for the renovation of historic New York City synagogues, and has provided direct project funding for the $1.7 million restoration of Congregation Tifereth Israel, the oldest synagogue in Queens. Congregation Tifereth Israel is under construction, as is Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, recipient of a $50,000 grant toward the $700,000 restoration of its roof and limestone facades. Additionally, Roy J. Zuckerberg, who provided the initial $25,000 to launch the Jewish Heritage Fund, has renewed his gift this year.
The David Berg Foundation has awarded a two-year, $100,000 grant to help establish a new Historic Synagogue Fund. The Historic Synagogue Fund will, for the first time, allow the Conservancy to make Challenge Grants of between $25,000 and $50,000 to assist with major repair and restoration projects in New York City. This initiative builds upon the Conservancy’s on-going, unprecedented survey of synagogues throughout the City’s five boroughs.
The Berg Foundation gift is a major step toward the Conservancy’s initial $500,000 Historic Synagogue Fund Goal. Additional leadership support has been received from the Roy J. Zuckerberg Foundation.
There are at least 100 little-known, landmark-quality, prewar synagogues in the five boroughs of New York City. These synagogues currently have no official landmark status, no protection from development pressure, and no access to restoration grant funding.
The Historic Synagogue Fund initiative will allow the Conservancy to reach out to many important synagogues that until now have not been recognized, studied, or published: particularly synagogues in Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods with growing Russian-Jewish populations. These synagogues tell the important story of Jewish migration throughout New York City in the early 20th century – and are increasingly populated by immigrant communities with great appreciation for these buildings, but few resources available to repair and maintain these buildings.
To date, the Conservancy has completed survey work on 170 synagogues in Brooklyn, 120 synagogues in Queens, 74 synagogues and former synagogues in the Bronx, and 20 synagogues on Staten Island. Survey work will continue in 2010 on approximately 120 synagogues in Manhattan.
This initiative is part of the Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Program, one of only two statewide programs in the country, and one of the only programs in New York to address the preservation needs of historic religious properties. Since 1986, the Program has awarded 1,071 grants totaling more than $6.1 million to 636 congregations across New York State for the repair and restoration of their historic houses of worship, including nearly $2.5 million to 172 congregations in New York City.