Representatives of the Orthodox community in Manhattan’s Upper West Side gathered this past December at the Manhattan residence of Allen I. Fagin, OU Executive Vice President, to discuss and exchange strategies to strengthen the local community.
The event, spearheaded by Mr. Fagin and Rabbi Dovid Cohen, OU Department of Synagogue and Community Services Regional Director for Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut, was attended by rabbis and lay leaders of twelve local institutions including West Side Sephardic Congregation, the Jewish Center, Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim, West Side Institutional Synagogue, Lincoln Square Synagogue, Manhattan Day School and the West Side Council of Orthodox Jewish Organizations. Representatives from several OU departments, including Synagogue and Community Services, the Harriet & Heshe Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus and NCSY, were also present.
“A great cross-section of the Upper West Side community was in attendance,” says Rabbi Cohen. “Many attendees commented on the value of bringing such a diverse group together to discuss communal issues.”
Over an elegant catered dinner, attendees touched upon a wide range of topics, including improving programming for young families, coordinating security on a communal level, providing support and guidance to the influx of French Jews who have settled in Manhattan due to rising anti-Semitism in France and galvanizing the local singles crowd, a task that all attendees agreed might be their greatest communal challenge and opportunity.
Some of the initiatives that grew out of the event include new and dynamic programming for Orthodox teens in the area, to be organized by Rabbi Cohen in conjunction with Manhattan Day School. Also in the works is an Upper West Side welcome event in the summer for singles who are new to the community, spearheaded by Congregation Ohab Zedek along with OU-JLIC, Hart Levine, founder of Heart2Heart, and Rabbi Cohen.