East End Temple gets new rabbi

Rabbi Stanton

Rabbi Josh Stanton

By Sabina Mollot

Last May, the rabbi at East End Temple, David Adelson, left his position after 16 years to pursue a position as dean of the New York Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Since then, the Stuyvesant Square congregation has been led by interim rabbi Dennis Ross. In July, however, East End will have a new rabbi, Josh Stanton, who is currently serving as associate rabbi at Congregation B’Nai Jeshuruna in Short Hills, New Jersey. There, Stanton’s been focused on empowering lay leaders, supporting disabled worshippers and also expanding technology in synagogue life, a passion of his that got him recognized by the Huffington Post. The news site once referred to him as one of the “best Jewish voices on Twitter.” Additionally, as Stanton told Town & Village this week, he also has a strong interest in social justice efforts, and in Jewish/Muslim relations.

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Divine signs of the times

Church uses humor to connect with community

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Gustavus Adolphus Pastor Christopher Mietlowski started the sign campaign seven years ago and has since seen an increase in church membership. (Photo collage by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It’s not unusual for signs in front of churches to have uplifting messages. Often they’re lifted from biblical passages. Other times they’re behavioral suggestions, and if there’s room, there’ll be a bingo schedule included, too.

But in Gramercy, one church has managed to stand out from the parish pack for the messages on its signs, which have become so popular, they’ve actually boosted membership.

That church would be Gustavus Adolphus, a 150-year-old Lutheran church where a recent sign suggested: “Come, search for Pokemon — stay, find God’s grace.”

Another, inspired by pop song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, read: “We’re all about dat grace, bout dat grace, no Devil!”

And another reminded passersby: “That love thy neighbor thing — I meant that — God.”

Last winter, during particularly frigid temperatures, a sign pointed out, “On the bright side, we haven’t seen a mosquito in months.”

The signs, which get changed around twice a month, are the brainchild of the church’s pastor, Christopher Mietlowski, better known to his flock as Pastor Chris.

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First female president of T&V Synagogue turns 100

Peter Cooper Village resident Florence Friedman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Peter Cooper Village resident Florence Friedman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Voters in New York need to provide a reason for voting absentee and Peter Cooper Village resident Florence Friedman had a good one: she turned 100 the day before the election.

When she was born in 1916, the actual day of the election that year when voters reelected Democratic incumbent Woodrow Wilson, women were still not allowed to vote. And although Friedman wasn’t able to make it to her polling place on Election Day because of limited mobility, she said she enthusiastically sent in her ballot ahead of the deadline because she wanted to make sure her vote was counted for Hillary Clinton.

She was saddened when she woke up on Wednesday and found that her choice had not won.

“I voted for Hillary and most of the people around me voted for Hillary but I’m disappointed in the outcome,” she said the day after the election. “But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. It’s what we’ll have to live with.”

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Landmarked Flatiron church gutted by fire

Police at the scene of the fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava closed off the block in case the destroyed church on West 25th Street collapsed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Police at the scene of the fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava closed off the block in case the destroyed church on West 25th Street collapsed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A four-alarm fire gutted a Serbian Orthodox church at 24 West 25th Street on Sunday evening, following services earlier that day that took place for Orthodox Easter. Because the services ended earlier in the afternoon, no one was inside the church at the time the fire broke out around 6:50 p.m. but the blaze left the interior of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in shambles, burning the roof off of the landmarked structure that has been in the neighborhood since 1855. FDNY said that one civilian and four firefighters were taken to Bellevue Hospital for smoke inhalation and no other injuries were reported.

Police at the scene on Monday morning said that the street would be closed until investigators could determine that the remaining part of the building still standing was structurally sound and wouldn’t collapse. The officer noted that a collapse was unlikely but the street remained closed as a precaution. Only employees working at buildings on the street were allowed past the police barricades. FDNY noted on Wednesday morning that the cause is still under investigation but the fire is considered non-suspicious.

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Man tries to lure girl at school fair

By Sabina Mollot
A man attempted to lure a girl at a street fair that was held by the Jack and Jill School two Saturdays ago, Town & Village has learned.

According to a spokesperson for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, an unknown man approached a six-year-old girl at the event, and asked where her dad was. He then told her she should go with him because he was her uncle, police said.

The school event was held on a public street.

The school event was held on a public street.

Mary Carroll French, the director at the school, told Town & Village that while she wasn’t a witness to the incident, she heard after the fact how a man had approached a former student who was at the event and spoke to her.

“It was what the NYPD would call attempted luring,” said Carroll French. But, she added, the girl didn’t respond to him. Additionally, the girl’s father was nearby as was another father and a sexton at the school.

“The sexton had his eye on him and was watching him,” she said. The sexton, then realizing the man was a stranger, shooed the man away and he left with his bike, although Carroll French said she didn’t know if he was riding it.

She noted that since the fair was held on a public street, East 16th Street between Rutherford Place and Third Avenue, anyone could walk through. The event was held from noon to 4 p.m. and Carroll French said she believed the man strode through later in the event. She added that parents at the school, which is for kids ages 2-5, have been alerted.

Police described the man as being black or Hispanic, approximately 6 ft. 1 in. and has curly or wavy hair.

The man’s actions were also mentioned in an email blast to neighbors from the Gramercy Park Block Association this past Tuesday. The email quotes a brief letter sent to parents from another local school that referred to the incident as an attempted kidnapping.

Last weekend, when another local school had a street fair, a couple of police officers were stationed nearby and this time there were no incidents, police said.