During its 80-year history, The Jewish Community Center, Congregation Ohr Yisrael of Spring Valley, New York, marked the lifecycle for generations of Jews. At its height, it had a Hebrew school with over 600 students. But after years of changing demographics, and a four-year struggle to repurpose its facility, the synagogue was unable to continue and the congregation’s leadership decided to dissolve. As one of its final acts, the Conservative congregation made a $25,000 donation to Hillel.
“This four-year odyssey has been bittersweet to all of us,” says Committee Chair Stan Weisel. “We hope to perpetuate our name so that future generations will know of our existence.”
In the waning days of the congregation, the leadership found new homes for its memorial plaques, ritual objects, memorabilia and Torah scrolls. Torahs were sent to Israel, Russia, New Jersey, Wyoming, and to Hillel at the University of Albany.
The synagogue is disbursing $2 million, approximately one-third going to charities in Israel including the Technion, Jewish National Fund, Hadassah Hospital and the Israel Cancer Research Fund. Money for other Israeli charities is being distributed through the PEF Israel Endowment Fund. American charities include the JCC-Y in Rockland, the Reuben Gittleman Day School, Bikur Cholim, Camp Ramah, Camp Simchah, Taglit-birthright israel, Hatzollah Ambulance Corp., Jewish Family Services, JTS, Ohr Vadas School for Special Needs Children, Holocaust Center of Spring Valley, and Jewish War Veterans.