In 1953, the East Meadow Jewish Center was built on Prospect Avenue. The Conservative Jewish synagogue began with just over 100 founding members, and was led by spiritual leader Dr. Israel Nobel.
This year, the Jewish Center is commemorating its 60th anniversary, and will host a number of celebratory social events throughout the year, leading up to a climactic celebration weekend in November.
The synagogue, whose membership has grown to more than 400 families, now has Hebrew school programs for nursery school, kindergarten and high school students, adult education classes, daily religious services and a variety of other programs for children and adults. ‚ÄúWe are a full-service congregation,‚ÄĚ said Rabbi Ronald Androphy, its spiritual leader since 1983. ‚ÄúWe meet the religious, spiritual, educational, social and communal needs of our members and our children.‚ÄĚ
But what has made the synagogue so resilient, Androphy added, is the community spirit of its membership. When a member suffers a loss, the community mourns as well, he said. And on the flip side, members join in celebration when one of them achieves something great.
‚ÄúWe saw this most recently with Hurricane Sandy, where 90 percent of East Meadow was without electricity, including the synagogue,‚ÄĚ Androphy recounted. ‚ÄúPeople who had electricity reached out to others in the synagogue community and brought them into their homes.‚ÄĚ
Androphy, who was born and raised in Waterbury, Conn., was the spiritual leader of Congregation Shomray Hadath in Elmira from 1977 to 1983. He moved to East Meadow just weeks before he was chosen to lead the Jewish Center. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been a very good marriage for 30 years,‚ÄĚ said the rabbi, who earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 2008 after being awarded the prestigious Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellowship.
Since moving to East Meadow, he said, he has noted an increase in diversity in the community. One of the greatest events in East Meadow, he added, is its annual Inter-Faith Thanksgiving service, at which people of all beliefs gather for one giant service. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs always been a tremendous asset to East Meadow,‚ÄĚ said Androphy, who delivered the homily at the 2011 service, held at St. Raphael‚Äôs Parish.