Sunday, May 15, 2016

At Touro Synagogue May 14, 2016

Yesterday I was sitting at my usual spot during services at Touro Synagogue, on the right side, second row opposite the bimah. I keep an eye on the action both on the bimah, the ark, the ladies' gallery, and out the window to enjoy the view and keep an eye out for minyanaires. 
Not long after I arrived, two visitors sat in front of me, one short and one tall. The shorter gentleman turned around and introduced himself by saying, "I was bar mitzvahed here in 1963." I replied, "So was I!" It was Stephen Huttler, who was in class with me at the United Hebrew School. I didn't know him well. He lived in Middletown when he was a kid, and now dwellsin Washington, DC. Rabbi Marc Mandel led us as we warmly welcomed Stephen, his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. 

Stephen made a point of going to Touro weekly for two years before his bar mitzvah, although his family went to the Temple. Stephen's grandparents went to Ahavas Achim. His grandfather Louis Huttler owned Broadway Tailor, which was across from Thompson Junior High School. Louis came from Husiatin, Galicia. It was in Austria when he left and is now in The Ukraine. 

Husiatin has an old Synagogue, partially ruined, which was built in 1670 of stone and brick to replace a wooden synagogue. The style was Italian Renaissance, and the design was as a Fortress Synagogue. The fortress elements of the design  were toned down when it was rebuilt after a fire in 1742. It appears to be waiting for someone to come along and save.  Learn more at the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe

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