…that’s all Eugene Weiser told us we needed to do, when we asked about attending services for the High Holy Days. In a City where worshipers often pay more for tickets to temple than they do for The Book of Mormon, his is a compelling invitation, for sure.
More like the mayor of Clinton Street, Mr. Weiser is President of Congregation Chasam Sopher (Seal of the Scribe), among the oldest synagogues still standing in the USA…and actually the oldest still in use in New York State. Right smack in the heart of the now fashionably funky Lower East Side and surrounded by hipster hangouts like the Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant, WD50 and Frankie’s Spuntino, Chasam Sopher provides people of all faiths with food for the soul. “Everyone is welcome,” he said emphatically…and yet with genuine warmth.
As Mr. Weiser proudly guided us through the synagogue, as though it was his own home, the response he gave when asked about the age of religious art and artifacts was virtually always the same; “before my time….before my time.” Built in 1853 and recently renovated, the sense of both Jewish and neighborhood history is still palpable.
For the uninitiated, Rosh Hashanah is the first day of the Jewish New Year and marks the celebration of the creation of the world and humankind. It begins a ten day period of introspection, contemplation, forgiveness and reconciliation, culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These highest of holy days are filled with prayer and sacred rituals, and usher in the opportunity for new beginnings.
“So where are you spending the holidays?” Mr. Weiser asked in a mildly guilt-inducing tone, somewhat reminiscent of my grandmother’s. “You’ll come to us!” he replied, before I could even get the words out.
It felt like home.
From your friends at
New York Natives
Contact Information for Congregation Chasam Sopher:
Address: 10 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002
Rabbi Azriel Siff or Eugene Weiser
Phone: (212) 777-5140