Allow me to share a couple of stories:
There’s the Vishkover Chevra on the corner of Grand and Montgomery, now a renovated OHEL home. It was once a charming shul on the first floor of a three story walk up apartment with gorgeous murals on the wall.
There was a kiddush downstairs every week, with “Louie’s Kugel. Louie was a Hispanic custodian who would put up the Kugel every week and take it out of the stove. Dr. Feitel Rubin would cut it during the end of Mussaf, and we would all enjoy it along with the herring, kichel, and banter among the old men.
I was a news-buff at seven years old, and would sometimes sneak downstairs during davening to read Louie’s copy of the New York Post. This served me
When my dad wanted me in shul for kedusha, he’d come get me. Other times, I would explore the downstairs. I don’t remember much, but there was a bathroom at the end of the hall, and a door in the middle leading to the sun-basement. It was pitch black, so I never went down there. It was also the first time I heard the word sub-basement.
I once gave a speech at mincha time in that shul, probably from a book, and the whole place - all of eleven or twelve people - listened (The Leventhal brothers, Mutty and David, were the masters of banter, heckled me a little bit.)
The grown-ups got together and through legal action, either in civil or religious court - I don’t know - we’re able to reach an agreement whereby the building would sell, and the shul would retain the use of the building. A Jewish organization would be a good candidate to agree to this, and a deal was struck with OHEL.
I can tell you who ended up in which shul by memory, but it’s not important. The fonder memories are. The Kugel, the newspapers, the mural, the benches. I had a very special experience in that corner of my childhood.
I’ve been inside several other of the synagogues that are no longer open or functioning. There’s the one off of Grand Street which I’m blanking on the name, but is a city landmark and had a fire recently.
The old section of the East Side Torah Center that was sold to whatever business is there now. (They had two buildings on the corner of Henry St, where it meets Grand.) There was a kiddush hall downstairs, that’s now one of the main sanctuaries. Among my earliest memories is dodging through adults and grabbing candy from those multi-tiered trays at some gala kiddush or event.