2015-09-30 / Voice at the Shore

Holidays go smoothly with Emeth Shalom and Trocki Shul sharing building

Voice shore correspondent

The Trocki Zichron M’Vilna Shul currently rents space from Temple Emeth Shalom and has its own entrance on Kenyon Avenue. The Trocki Zichron M’Vilna Shul currently rents space from Temple Emeth Shalom and has its own entrance on Kenyon Avenue. The shofar rang out at Temple Emeth Shalom in two separate sanctuaries this year, as two congregations — one Reform and one Orthodox— held services at the same time in the same building at 8501 Ventnor Avenue in Margate.

“There were no problems, no conflicts. It was a normal day for both of us. Things worked out extremely smoothly,” said Marc Needleman, president of Temple Emeth Shalom.

Dr. Ira Trocki, leader of the Jack and Mira Trocki Zichron M’Vilna Shul, agreed. “It was very nice to have another shul in the same building. Some of their people even came to see our shul.” He added that on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Emeth Shalom’s Rabbi Geller and a few cong regants joined the Orthodox shul for services, since the Reform congregation did not hold its own service that day.

Since early May, Dr. Trocki’s shul has used a large conference room in Emeth Shalom’s building as its sanctuary, and even has its own entranceway to the building on Kenyon Avenue. “It’s just nice that a Reform congregation took an Orthodox congregation into their building with open arms. We’re all Jews, from the same family, we are all from Abraham, we all follow the rules of God and Torah,” said Trocki.

Sharing a building is nothing new for the Trocki Zichron M’Vilna Shul, which now calls itself the “Margate Shul” for short. The shul, which began in Trocki’s parents’ home 40 years ago, most recently shared space with Chabad at the Shore.

Yet even on the High Holidays, the number of people participating in services at the Margate Shul is small compared to Emeth Shalom, which has roughly 125 single and family members. “In the past (the Trocki shul) was mainly a family shul,” where family members and their friends came together to pray, said Trocki. This year, with a new location and a new full-time rabbi, Shalom Ever, the Margate Shul—which does not charge a membership fee— saw about 30 new faces at High Holiday services. “I joke around that I’ve made around 30 new friends who have joined our little shul,” said Trocki.

Would this shared building situation work for two larger congregations of differing denomination? That is a question that congregations throughout the country with diminishing numbers of congregants have been pondering, according to Needleman. His congregation, which is considering the possibility of sharing a building with Congregation Beth Judah in Ventnor, held many of its Friday night services there this summer as a means of exploring the possibility of creating a permanent arrangement.

In the meantime, one thing is clear: Sharing a building on the High Holidays—a time when synagogues see their highest number of attendees—clearly worked for Emeth Shalom and the Margate Shul.

“Our goal is the same: praising and servicing God,” noted Trocki. “It doesn’t make a difference if you are Reform, Conservative or Orthodox.”.

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