Our History

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Mikdash Eliyahu prior to expansion

Within a few years of its founding, there was a need for a major expansion to fit all of the congregants. Murray became part of a luxury condominium complex and using funds from the sale of these condos, Mr. Dweck's plan was to build a structure that was more than triple the size of the original synagogue. The community has responded with support for both the condos, and of course the expansion of the synagogue. The New York Times wrote a piece on this development, praising the ingenuity of integrating residential and religious edifices. This is a tribute to the Syrian Jewish community – a community that dedicates itself to Torah, while at the same time possessing unparalleled resourcefulness and creativity.

Today, under the leadership of Rabbi Dr. Raymond Harari, Rabbi Avi Harari and president Eli M. Dweck, Mikdash Eliyahu is home to hundreds of families, provides daily classes, has world renowned Hazzanim leading the Slah, a booming young adult minyan, an ever-growing father-son minyan and a Shabbat girls program that attracts dozens. May we only see more growth in the future.

The story of Mikdash Eliyahu, established October 1998, is a good example of how the Syrian Jewish Community functions at its best. It starts with Mr. Murray Dweck, who would occasionally attend an Ashkenaz synagogue on East 3rd Street on a snowy Friday night. Surprised to see that this minyan was half Sephardic, Mr. Dweck soon decided that there was a necessity for a new Syrian knis in the Gravesend area. This idea immediately found its supporters, among them Maney Douek, who was enthusiastic about the project from the start. Although there were the usual difficulties of raising funds and obtaining a property, the project eventually got off to a running start. By using his ingenuity in real estate to procure a lot, and with the help of Ezra Massry who brought his family to start a daily minyan, Murray Dweck created a synagogue in the Syrian-Halabi tradition that is now thriving as a place of worship and study.

Mikdash Eliyahu is named after Eli F. Dweck A"H, the father of Murray. In many ways, the synagogue is a tribute to his memory. Living in Puerto Rico for 19 years, Mr. Dweck faced the challenge of raising a family in a Catholic country with practically no Jews. Never wavering from his dedication to Judaism, he built a mikveh for his wife, brought in a mohel from America for each of his three sons, and built a succah every year. When the time came for his oldest child's Bar Mitzvah, Mr. Dweck decided to move to America where his sons could receive the proper Torah instruction. Mikdash Eliyahu continues this tradition of unwavering commitment to Judaism.

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l-r Mr. Maney Douek, Rabbi Avraham Benhamu, Rabbi Nissim Elnekaveh, Mr. Eli M. Dweck, Mr. Murray Dweck