Meseritz Shul, also known as Edath Lei'Isroel Ansche Meseritz, is a 1910 Orthodox synagogue on New York city's Lower East Side. It was built by a congregation established in 1888 consisting of immigrants from Mezhirichi (Ukrainian: Meжірічі) which is a village in the Korets Raion of the Rivne Oblast, Ukraine. It is located in western Ukraine, 13 miles W of Korets, 27 miles E of Rivne. The synagogue is located at 415 East 6th Street. Pesach (Paul) Ackerman served as Rabbi from 1969 until his death on June 14, 2013.
Mezhirichi is also known as Polish: Międzyrzec Korecki, English: Meseritz, Yiddish: מעזריטש Mezritsh, Hebrew: מזריטש גדול.
Jewish life in Mezhirichi
Undoubtedly the most significant event in the Jewish community of Mezhirichi was the arrival there of the Maggid, Rabbi Dov Ber. After the death of the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov, in 1761, Rabbi Dov Ber became the next leader of the movement. He moved to Rivne, and later to Mezhrichi. Mezhrichi rapidly became a magnet and place of pilgrimage for the chasidim. The location of Mezhrichi, nearer to Poland and White Russia than the Baal Shem Tov's seat in Medzhybizh, acted as a spur to the fledgling chasidic movement. The Maggid is buried in Annopol.
The synagogue is unusual in being a very small, urban congregation on a narrow lot that has an extremely beautiful neo-classical facade, and is the last operating "tenement synagogue" in New York City's East Village. Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation called it "an intact historic gem."
Architectural historian and New York University professor Gerald R. Wolfe describes the synagogue's "most attractive interior... The unusually narrow building has balconies which extend almost to the middle of the sanctuary, and through the intervening space, broad rays of light from two overhead skylights seem to focus on the Ark and on a large stained glass panel above it. The soft-yellow-colored panes of the two-story-high window are crowned by an enormous Mogen David [Star of David] of red glass which seems to dominate the entire room."
Andrew Dolkart, a Columbia University professor of historic preservation, believes that the neo-classical building should be preserved because cities should preserve "architecture that not only reflects the lives and history of the rich, but also the incredibly history of common people in New York."
The congregation is negotiating with Joshua Kushner, part of the family that owns the New York Observer newspaper. Kushner plans to tear down the present neo-classical synagogue and build six-story residential building, housing the synagogue in a modern space on the lowest two floors. According to historic preservationist Samuel D. Gruber, there is a feasible but more costly alternative, which would preserve the synagogue building and build apartments above it. A coalition of neighborhood groups including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the East Village Community Coalition and Jewish groups have rallied to save the building and have asked the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the building.
The Kushners later pulled out of the development deal.
- Sewell Chan (August 14, 2008). "Fate of Lower East Side Shul Stirs Emotions". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
- Dobnik, Verena. "Old Manhattan synagogue is in danger of demolition" Newsday (August 14, 2008)
- Friedlander, David.  "East Village temple may be demolished"] AM New York (August 15, 2008)
- Wolfe, Gerald R., Synagogues of New York's Lower East Side, New York, 1978
- Chan, Sewell."Fate of Lower East Side Shul Stirs Emotions" New York Times (August 14, 2008)
- Amateuu, Albert. "Rebuild plan for shul fuels debate in congregation" The Villager (July 30, 2008)
- "Congregation Mezritch" on the GVSHP website
- Freedlander, David. "Kushners pull out of plan to demolish and redevelop historic synagogue in East Village" by AM New York (August 15, 2008)
- Brazee, Christopher D., et al. "East Village/Lower East Side Historic District Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (October 9, 2012)
- Media related to Meseritz Synagogue at Wikimedia Commons