It’s been two years and although they have just officially merged, the Garden Jewish Center and the Bay Terrace Jewish Center have already completed their first joint project: purchasing an ambulance for Israel.
The dedication ceremony for the $125,000 yellow vehicle was held last Sunday in Bay Terrace. The ambulance will travel by ship to Israel next month and will go to Magen David Adom, an Israeli emergency services organization similar to the Red Cross
Marilyn Bitterman, who has headed the negotiating team from the Garden center to compete the merger and is now its co-president, said the Garden Jewish Center building at 24-20 Parsons Blvd. in Flushing had been decreasing in membership over the last few years and in 2012 its rabbi retired.
The building has been sold and developers hope to turn it into a private school, Bitterman said.
“We just officially moved out a week ago, but there have been no services there for two years,” she said.
The two groups received approval Monday by the state for the merger. The house of worship will now be known as the Bay Terrace Garden Jewish Center.
There are approximately 143 former Garden members now attending Sabbath services at Bay Terrace, which has the space. It too has seen a decline in membership from a high of 500 to about 250.
To celebrate the merger, the two groups decided to do something positive and donating an ambulance hit the right chord. It was paid for from some of the money from selling the Flushing building.
Part of the negotiations involved acceptance of Garden religious items at Bay Terrace and changing the name of both congregations. There will be co-officers as well for five years.