By Gabriel Rom
Seventeen years after a fire destroyed their shul building, Congregation Havurat Yisrael in Forest Hills has finally moved into a new home on 106-20 70th Road.
The Modern Orthodox congregation had, until recently, worshipped in several locations throughout Forest Hills. Since 2005, it shared space with Agudas Achim, a shtiebl which is a small prayer room, at 108-11 69th Road, while holding Shabbat services at the Touro College building at 71-02 113th St., the Central Queens Y on 108th Street; and most recently, a storefront on Austin Street.
“But Havurat Yisrael did not end. People came and they prayed with us wherever we were,” Rabbi David Algaze wrote in 2011. “Through our troubles, we have come to appreciate each other more and the fellowship and friendship have increased.”
In 1998, their small brick dwelling was badly damaged by construction next door on the building that was the site of a former Bukharian temple. It is now the Bukharian Jewish Community Center.
Eventually, Havurat Yisrael received several hundred thousand dollars in an insurance settlement. The fund-raising committee also raised around $1 million from the congregation through pledges for new construction, said Dr. David Sosnowik, fund-raising chairman for the synagogue. The plan was for the building to be six stories, but that has changed to eight.
The new synagogue will be 6,000 to 8,000 feet in an eight-floor building, sharing space with condominiums, storefronts, and a garage.
Havurat Yisrael, an Orthodox congregation, was started by Algaze, a former assistant rabbi at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, and about 60 families in 1981
Today, the congregation serves Jews of both Arab and European descent, and includes among its members Russians, Israelis, Jews of various other nationalities.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@