Rabbi Fund-raising to open first SYnagogue in Inwood, right next door to bustling religous hub Washington Heights
A hungry Inwood rabbi wants a piece of Washington Heights’ kosher love.
Rabbi Herschel Hartz is trying to raise $150,000 in hopes of opening Inwood’s first synagogue, kvetching that Jewish-heavy Washington Heights attracts all the holy action.
The UJA-Federation named Manhattan’s four northernmost zip codes — from W. 155th St. to the tip of the island — as the fastest-growing Jewish enclaves citywide. Using 2011 data, researchers clumped not-so-religious Inwood with Orthodox-friendly Washington Heights.
Yeshiva University calls Washington Heights home along with about 10 synagogues and congregations, a kosher pizza shop and a Chinese restaurant. But Inwood’s Jewish presence is not so pronounced.
“Inwood is forgotten,” said Hartz, noting that finding a kosher bagel in the area is an impossible feat.
“Inwood is always left out,” he said. “We want to give this neighborhood a voice: a Jewish voice.”
Hartz launched his movement, Inwood Jews, nine months back. He hosted drum-circle prayer services in Inwood Hill Park, and threw a Thanksgivukah bash at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood. He started fund-raising two weeks ago, aiming to reach his six-figure goal.
“I am very open to attracting people any way I can,” Hartz said, estimating that about his events attracted about 100 members of the tribe.
The number of Jews in Washington Heights and Inwood doubled from 2001 to 2011, according to the UJA, growing from 5,400 to 12,900
It’s unclear how many live in Inwood, but Washington Heights has been home to a thriving Jewish neighborhood since the early 20th Century, when German Jews moved into the locale. Priced-out Jewish yuppies are now retracing those steps.
“People are moving from the Upper West Side to Washington Heights; the rents are reasonable,” said David Libchaber, president of The Fort Tryon Jewish Center — one of Manhattan’s northernmost congregations, which meets in a space off of W. 190th St.
Libchaber said Hartz is “just making noise,” noting that his synagogue is attracting people from Inwood, who don’t mind walking a few blocks south get their spirituality on.
But shuttling back and forth between Inwood and the Heights is no simple task, locals groused, complaining that the streets are too hilly and steep.
“Inwood is too far,” said Matthew Chen, manager of Chop Chop, a kosher Chinese restaurant on W. 184th St. “A lot of people call for delivery, but I say, ‘It’s too far.’”
Inwood’s closest supermarket with a kosher section, Key Food on W. 187th St., also leaves a big swath of the neighborhood in the lurch. Manager John Inglese said his delivery guy rarely crosses Dyckman St.
To Hartz, it all just means one thing:
“We need to build our own Jewish community,” he said. “We need help.”