UPDATE: Synagogue offers worship space for homeless Plainview, NY Sikh congregation

Temple Beth Elohim in Old Bethpage, NY (photo: plainview.patch.com)

Temple Beth Elohim in Old Bethpage, NY (photo: plainview.patch.com)

I was contacted by Joe Dowd, who wrote the article in the Plainview Patch about the closing of the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center due to several municipal code violations in Plainview, New York .  He advised me of an interesting update to the situation faced by that Sikh community now that their Gurdwara has been forced to close:

In a gift coincidentally timed to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Temple Beth Elohim has offered its social hall for use by the members of the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center, which has been shuttered for months by a slew of code violations.

The Sikh’s have accepted the invitation, and recently began worship services at the Old Bethpage synagogue last week. They will conduct their services on Sundays through November, and beyond if necessary.

It’s often said that challenges should be seen as opportunities, and this is how Rabbi Michael Churgel of Temple Beth Elohim – who issued the invitation – saw the predicament faced by his Sikh neighbors:

“We saw it as a real chance for peace and understanding,” said Rabbi Michael Churgel, the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Elohim.  “We’re thrilled because it’s an opportunity for our communities to share and learn from each other.”

…In part, the synagogue wants to seek friendship and knowledge between the two religious communities, Churgel said. In addition to the regular Sunday services, Temple Beth Elohim will host “Diwali,” the Sikh Festival of Lights on the night of Wednesday Oct. 26 and a second Sikh holy day on Thursday Nov. 10.

What a fantastic display of interfaith understanding on behalf of the Temple Beth Elohim synagogue.  It is an inspiring thing, indeed, to see that Jewish community extend their tradition of tzedakah (which closely parallels the Sikh traditions of degh (charity) and sewa (selfless service)) beyond their own community to help those of other faith groups as well.

The full story – including an update on the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center and its congregation – is available at the Plainview Patch.


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