"One" Bed Bug Closes down Reform Temple in New York City
Central Synagogue the Reform "Bais Hamikdash"
Lexington Avenue’s Central Synagogue, dubbed New York’s “mega-shul” and boasting the longest-running Jewish congregation in the city, has been abruptly closed due to bedbugs. Worshippers were alerted last week via e-mail.
The Community House and Pavilion of the temple, which has a reported $30 million-plus endowment and counts Loews Corp.’s Jonathan M. Tisch as a major donor, closed Wednesday and will re-open Monday after a full fumigation.
The popular synagogue draws huge numbers on live-streamed services, boasts 2,300 households in its congregation and reportedly has had a waiting list of up to two years for membership. Its Web site reads, “We are not currently accepting new member applications, though we are maintaining a simple wait-list.” But the unwanted critters still made it inside.
The Central Synagogue community counts numerous high rollers. Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy Pollan are longtime members, and Drew Barrymore has been known to drop in. Geraldo Rivera married Erica Levy there in 2003, and David Lauren and Lauren Bush were married by Central’s senior cantor, Angela Buchdahl, at the Double RL ranch in Colorado. Bernie Madoff’s brother, Peter, attended his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah there.
The synagogue’s annual Shofar Award, given to those who exemplify Jewish principles and beliefs, has been bestowed to “All in the Family” creator and TV icon Norman Lear, playwright Tony Kushner and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
A rep for the reform synagogue, which also runs nursery and religious schools, tells us that the word “ ‘outbreak’ is a gross exaggeration. They found one bedbug, but as a precaution they decided to close the building for a thorough fumigation. It’s more precautionary.”
We’re told the intruding insect was on the eighth floor in the Community House building. The Sanctuary, a national landmark, was not affected at all and will have services on the regular schedule.