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Monday, September 1, 2014
Congregation Beth Emeth moving to Rockville Centre
Christian ministry buying Franklin Avenue building
Christina Daly/Herald
Congregation Beth Emeth has sold its Hewlett building, above, and is expected to lease space from Central Synagogue in Rockville Centre.

A temple is leaving its building on Franklin Avenue in Hewlett, a church organization is moving in and some residents have concerns about their new neighbors.

Congregation Beth Emeth, the only Reconstructionist synagogue on Long Island’s South Shore, is planning to lease space for its membership of 100 families from Central Synagogue in Rockville Centre, though the two institutions have not yet finalized an agreement. Gary Carlton, an attorney representing Congregation Beth Emeth, said he expects the temple to have a lease in place before the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in September.

The congregation was originally Conservative when it was established in the 1950s, and was called the Hewlett Temple. By the 1990s, membership had declined to 48 families. In the hope of attracting new members, the temple, at 36 Franklin Ave., became affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement in 1994.

“We have a long history, and the building is filled with many memories for all our members,” said Herb Ruben, a member of Congregation Beth Emeth’s executive committee. “There is a sadness about it, but the congregation has a close sense of cohesiveness and they know many different options were explored.”

New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, approved the sale of the temple to Lilies International Christian Outreach, an organization run by Elsie Obed, a well-known religious leader. The sale must still be approved by a Nassau State Supreme Court judge, according to Carlton, which is expected by month’s end. The purchase price was $2.4 million, he confirmed.

The Hewlett congregation was looking to downsize from the 15,400-square-foot building to a much smaller one. Leasing space in Central Synagogue will allow Beth Emeth to cut its expenses, while remaining in the same general geographic area. Its membership comes from the Five Towns, East Rockaway, Lynbrook and Far Rockaway.

“The congregation and I remain committed to one another and look forward to a bright, new future,” said Rabbi Elliot Skiddell, the temple’s spiritual leader.

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