Friday, December 06, 2019

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I enjoyed reading “Memories of New Milford’s Once-Thriving Jewish Community,” (July 25, 2019). My family moved to New Milford in the summer of 1956 and were members of the New Milford Jewish Center up until my mother’s passing in December 2017. My mother served on the board and participated in the players’ group. My father was a men’s club president and they were diamond supporters for many years. I fondly recall the vibrant Hebrew school, junior congregation and USY chapter of the 60s and 70s — I was valedictorian of the Hebrew school graduating class in 1966 and president of the USY chapter which had more than 90 members in 1970 and 1971.

While I moved on after college to a life of Modern Orthodoxy in Massachusetts, I often visited my parents and implored them to get their synagogue building to open its youth lounge to an Orthodox minyan for families that were moving to town as Teaneck became too congested. Alas, after a major faux pas with Rabbi Francine Rosten, no strong connection to the nearby Solomon Schechter Day School and a few unsuccessful attempts to partner with a boys’ yeshiva and another Jewish educational institute, the congregation called Beth Tikvah had no option but to merge with and lose its identity in the Paramus Jewish Center. Even during the years we had Hebrew school in the Presbyterian Church on weekdays and in the public school on Sundays while the major addition was being built, I worried that the new building might be beautiful but empty of Jews. How prescient!

Amy Fistel