New Milford Synagogue to Close, Korean Church to Buy Building

Steady decline in membership causes New Milford's synagogue to merge with a Paramus synagogue; Korean Church to purchase River Road property.

New Milford may soon be home not to one, but to two Korean churches once the sale of the building that houses Congregation Beth Tikvah on River Road is finalized.

A source close to the sale said that due to a steady decline in membership, the board made the decision to merge with a synagogue in Paramus and sell the River Road property. According to this source, shortly after the building went on the market, a Korean church showed immediate interest. The sale is scheduled to be completed within one month.

"New Milford's synagogue was once a vibrant congregation with a Hebrew school," the source said. "But now, younger families want more than we can offer within our space."

The synagogue has no on-site parking which was not an issue when built in 1955, since most people walked to services. However, according to the source, not only did parking become a problem through the years -- as the congregation aged driving became a necessity -- but the younger generation was looking for a synagogue with larger, more modern facilities such as a gym and recreation programs, and left.

The Public Events Committee has requested that the monument for the Jewish War Veterans Memorial be moved from its current site near the synagogue to Borough Hall. During Monday's Mayor and Council meeting, Mayor Ann Subrizi said that they will coordinate with the DPW to have it relocated. "Hopefully in time for Memorial Day," she said.

In October, the Zoning Board approved the change of use variance for the Gospel Fellowship Church, to be located in the Riverview Racquetball Club on Henley Avenue.

Stay tuned for continued updates as this story unfolds.


Let Patch save you time. Get local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. It’s simple and fast: sign-up here.

Lori Barton February 27, 2013 at 09:00 PM
You are right. We are being squeezed from every direction. That's why it is so important to fight to save our community from development that we can prevent. The NM Jewish Center is a pre-existing house of worship. We can't prevent or stop another religious group from taking over that building. But we can fight to stop the United Water development and the proposed apartment complex at 391 Madison. Those are properties that are zoned for single family housing. We can let the zoning board know that we want them to maintain the existing zoning and not grant any variances. If there's no benefit to New Milford in granting relief from the current zoning, then the zoning board needs to hold true to the existing variances.
Lori Barton February 27, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Is the new owner allowed to operate a pre-school without obtaining any permission from the borough? Can you imagine adding in MORE traffic at drop off and pick up times on River Road? What a nightmare!
Tia Gold February 27, 2013 at 09:03 PM
You are part of the congregation that didn't support the Jewish community center, except when you needed a rabbi to bury a loved one, or to just visit the religious services once in a while to entertain your children. You are part of the problem.
Tia Gold February 27, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Who did you hear it from? The man in the moon. A new church is coming to New Milford, rejoice and give thanks.
Darlene February 27, 2013 at 09:11 PM
You're a bit snippy, Miss Tia Gold.
miriam pickett February 28, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Mrs. Gold, not everyone needs an affiliation to navigate life. Very strong cultural background. Children went to a Shula to learn their history and traditions. That was enough for us. I don't think we were part of the problem. The conservative movement is not prospering. Younger families are looking for a more orthodox environment. No one is to blame for the closing of the Center.
Tia Gold February 28, 2013 at 01:55 PM
I am not a member of the Jewish faith although my first husband Al was. Al was a good man, a good husband, a good father and he passed on before his time. Al was always talking about his synangogue and his congregation. When I went to church on sunday Al always gave me money to contribute. May Al rest in peace. Who is this source that does not have a name that the reporter is writing about? Someone who does not give their own name must be hiding something. Darlene says that she heard that the building will be used as a pre-school, who is her source? I telephoned everyone, the senior center, the municipal clerk, and not one other person had heard about a pre-school. I have grandchildren, with more on the way and could use a good pre-school in this area.
TommyIce February 28, 2013 at 02:19 PM
The discussion of religion and the impact of it on someone's life is important. But best left to discussing somewhere else. Right now the important thing to discuss is the impact (traffic, people, etc.) this will have on the community in the immediate area and also the greater concerns for New Milford.
Tia Gold February 28, 2013 at 03:44 PM
The New Milford Police Department Traffic Officer has records, counts, of the number of vehicles that have passed on various heavy duty roads like Boulevard and River Road. There are more cars on River Road and Boulevard monday to friday. People driving to and from work, school buses picking up and dropping off children monday to friday. On the weekend traffic counts drop. Saturday people drive to malls, super markets and do their shopping. Sunday the only small traffic is people driving to church or house of worship. If New Milford has two more houses of worship or churches it will only affect the small traffic day of sunday. The mini-mall at the intersection of madison ave. and river road does a lot of business with the high-school students and teachers who are there at school monday to friday. On the weekend the mini-mall has almost invisable smaller neighborhood area business. When the Korean church moves in there may be a increase in sunday business for our new milford stores, which is good for new milford. The other Korean church buying the empty tennis club already has a very large built in parking area that will only be used on sundays for the church going people. With one or two Korean churchs in new milford we might have a real estate increase of Korean people buying homes in new milford, with real estate prices going up, the same way that Fort Lee real estate prices went up when Korean people moved into that area.
miriam pickett February 28, 2013 at 04:43 PM
Lori, as I said in a previous post, there have been many different kinds of schools at the Center for all the years I have lived here. There was a private pre-school for about 5 years. I have no idea if any of the schools ever had to get anyone's approval. From observation of the Korean Church in Teaneck on River Road, traffic on Sunday's is increased 10 fold and it lasts all day. Sunday is the biggest food shopping day of the week in Bergen County. If the Shop Rite moves to the United Water property, Sunday will be a nightmare for people who are trying to get through New Milford. River Road, Madison Avenue and Main Street will all see an increase in traffic. It's inevitable. Factor in parishoners going to St. Joe's on Sunday, once the Elm Street Bridge is finished, and the traffic in the mornings will be awful. Our quiet Sundays will be consiged to "the good old days."
TommyIce February 28, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Tia where will those vehicles be parked on that low traffic Sunday? I'll tell you where--In the neighborhood surrounding the church, in the NVE bank's parking lot, in the liquor store's parking lot and, yes, in the strip mall's parking lot. Guess what? I won't be able to shop at Soprano's or Celtic or CVS when the church is having services or some other event. That building has a sizable kitchen and banquet facility. So you see, it might just countermand your argument that it will increase business at those local establishments.
H. Cohn March 01, 2013 at 02:09 PM
A good part of the parking problem is the facts tat parking is not allowed on one side of the street on Baldwin and Myrtle between River Road and Charles. The roads are the same width between Charles and Boulevard. Change the law and allow parking on both sides from River Road to Boulevard. The congregation could not support itself with the help of Jews like you. We want a synagogue when we need it but we won't give financial help and our attendance on a day to day basis.
NewMilfDadMakinEndsMeet March 01, 2013 at 02:59 PM
I guess our only saving grace is that with this boom in buying and building, our economy is coming back? Because I cannot see how two large developments that may happen at the same time, two new churches that both lack enough parking spots happening at the same time and I heard that the other side of town will have a possible development going up across from the post office, coupled with whatever monstrosity is going to go on the current shop rite site. Is this town insane? And this is all supposed to help my already too high property taxes? And yes I was NIMBY about a field at DEO but that wasn't an improvement in my eyes, but a monstrosity that didn't have enough space for it at that location. What is going on? How much more must be approved. When is it enough? If all three potential developments are rentals, how does the town afford this? rentals do not increase tax ratables. But overpopulated classrooms will burst. What next? We'll need new schools? Very disappointing.
Cranky Fake March 01, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Congregants will not be able to park in those private lots. Surface streets will be flooded with a lot of cars. I do not see any of the local businesses having an increase in business, the congregation will come for their services and leave when they are done. Tia you bring up some interesting topics, but I do not think this will bring an influx of Korean home buyers into town, as they will see NM for what it is going to become with all of this proposed development and poor leadership….an overdeveloped, overtaxed, below average Bergen county town with marginal schools, limited open space, overextended municipal services and dysfunctional local government. There are far better choices of places to live for the money.
TommyIce March 02, 2013 at 12:05 AM
Cranky I see those no parking signs in those parking lots, but they are not enforced. Have you ever tried to the shopping center on a Friday when there is a home football game? You can't park anywhere and when you do, go inside any of those stores and they are a ghost town. A cop is posted at the barricade shutting off the street but you are not stopped and ask if you are a store patron or a game watcher. They practically DIRECT you to park there.
Tia Gold March 03, 2013 at 10:07 AM
The First Baptist Church in New Milford has been operating since 1949. It has a large adult population that DRIVES CARS TO SERVICES FROM ALL OVER. And yet IT DOES NOT HAVE A SINGLE PARKING SPOT. Not one single parking spot in 64 years. Is anyone suggesting that New Milford should drive the Baptists out of town? Should the town have the New Milford Department of Public Works board up the Baptist Church building to keep the worshipers out. Should you have the New Milford Police Department arrest, detain and strip-search anyone in the area who looks like a Baptist. Any Baptists found in New Milford will be strip searched then tarred and feathered by the New Milford Town Council. Cause they ain’t got no parking spaces. Not a single god-durn parking space. What’s this world coming to when a church can come into town and operate for 64 years without a single parking space. Do the words racist and bigots only pop up when talking about Koreans or Korean Churches? Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox Methodists, Episcopal, Byzantine Catholic, AME Zion, Reformed, Redeemer, Evangelical, and all the rest, Someone has to check each one of their parking spaces. Since 1623 people have been coming into this area to worship, forming houses of worship, well its time for their parking spaces to be counted. No parking spaces, no worship, will that be New Milford’s new slogan?
Lori Barton March 03, 2013 at 12:58 PM
I think you're missing the point. I don't believe the problem lies with the church taking over the synagogue. Yes, there will be more traffic and more on street parking on Sundays. But the problem is IF the United Water property is allowed to become the monstrosity supermarket, then the traffic problems on a Sunday will be horrific. Sunday is the busiest day of the week for ShopRite. That alone will create a nightmare on River Road and the surrounding streets. Adding church traffic would make it unbearable. Allow the church, not the supermarket. And if the church does take over that building, then any other services provided (such as a preschool) should need municipal approval.
tony g2010 March 03, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Tia, I respectfully disagree with your comments on this. Most folks in town welcome BOTH Korean churches into town and I understand your point about other churches not having parking. But...as you have pointed out in a previous post, New Milford does not yet have a large Korean residential population, therefore those who come to worship, will be coming from somewhere else, most likely in a car that will need to be parked on the surrounding streets. Not a deal breaker at all, however when combined with a proposed new apartment building on Madison, then a much larger complex at the united water property, one can see how it is all going to snowball. I was driving on River last evening towards the United water property and thought to myself, how asinine it will be if they build a 24/7 supermarket and apartment house on this property, it will truly change the character of this town and not for the better. Keep the commercial development where is already is.
miriam pickett March 03, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Those of us who live within walking distance of the New Milford Jewish Center and have lived in New Milford remember when the Center was a vibrant part of community. When we bought our house 37 years ago, there was always something going on in the Center; whether it was Hebrew School, meetings, holidays or Saturday observances. We lived with the parking and the tumult that naturally arises from that kind of use. Over the years, as the membership of the Center grew grayer, things definitely quieted down. Ms. Gold seems to come from the Lolita school of posting here: Don't use your real name and make up issues that have nothing to do with what other people are posting just to start a fight. Well, I, for one, am not going to play.
Lolita March 03, 2013 at 03:43 PM
I have not bothered you at all troublemaker, yet you feel obligated to drag me into your own quagmire. How many phony names do you use? From where I sit, your very own community is admonishing you with no help from me at all. But as usual, you start something, a response comes back to you and then you hide in your make believe world of taking the high road.
Michelle March 03, 2013 at 04:32 PM
My first year of school was at the Jewish Center. First grade with Mrs. Arnone.
Tia Gold March 03, 2013 at 10:14 PM
People, we are getting off point. This original media story and some of the posts were about the by quote unnamed source quote troublemaker who attacked the quote two Korean Churches quote. It is the unnamed source that is a racist and a bigot for attacking not one, but two Christian churches, churches that have Korean members. If the Shoprite in New Milford wants to expand there is already a large, modern super market inside the Home Depot shopping center on River Road/Hackensack Ave. opposite the Continental Plaza office building with an enormous parking lot. That super market has been vacant for over three years and it is less then two miles from the existing Shoprite New Milford location. From a business viewpoint Shoprite super markets would be smarter to buy or lease that vacant super market then sink, literally, money into a new super market in the United Water wetlands area that floods frequently. I happen to agree with the S.O.D. arguments against developing the United Water wetlands property.
Bubble March 03, 2013 at 10:57 PM
And you're still a sharp tongued politician. You wonder why people are not so nice to you. Have you looked at what comes out of your mouth? Lolita, Lolimmy, whatever your name is. Your name came up because the other mean person(s) on here seem to be just like you. It's not our faults you came to mind. So much anger I thought it was you too! Mr. Cohn, you are a really nice Jew. You have a way with words too. You all should have coffee together so you can exchange barbs........don't forget to bring your cauldrons and your golden teeth so you can outshine each other.
Cranky Fake March 04, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Now, my story begins in 19-dickety-two. We had to say "dickety" cause that Kaiser had stolen our word "twenty". I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles... [the children laugh] "Dickety"? Highly dubious! What're you cackling at, fatty? Too much pie, that's your problem!
Ann Piccirillo March 04, 2013 at 04:33 AM
Editorial interjection: the topic of the article is the sale of the property and the question of parking. Nowhere in the body of the article did the source say anything more regarding the sale. I ask that the comments stay on topic and refrain from veering into any other territory.
Darlene March 04, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Tia - I am not seeing any attacks on Korean Churches in this article or its comments. That would certainly be offensive. I only see posts upset about increased traffic on New Milford streets, particularly in the vicinity of the High School. I'm with you on ShopRite moving to the previous Pathmark location next to Home Depot. I used to shop there before and after it's renovation. Pre-renovation, it was a lot like what the current ShopRite is - run down - but post renovation, it was a really nice store with all the bells and whistles. Great solution. I wonder if they could even move there temporarily while rebuilding the existing ShopRite. Sounds like a win-win to me.
miriam pickett March 04, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Howard Cohn, I was not insulted. Understood what you meant. All of Bergen County is in transition. This is one more example. I grew up in Passaic and witnessed entire neighborhoods change more than once. Hope the new home to the New Milford congregants can withstand all the pressures. The future is very difficult for the Conservative stream.
Tia Gold March 04, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Who or what is this mysterious source that does not identify himself? Why is he hiding? What is he hiding? My high school teacher taught that people who hide and do not tell you their real name have may have something really bad to hide. The Baptist Church has been in NM since 1959 without any parking places. The Jewish Center has been in NM since 1955 also without any parking places. Their worshipers park their cars on the street. It is called street parking. The Houses of Worship in NM all have special days of worship; parties, get togethers, and their worshipers park their cars on the street. The mysterious source implies that two churches, background horror music please, Korean Churches will be bad, dangerous or the bogeyman horror for the town of NM. Halloween is over, there is no bogeyman, and two Korean churches are not a horror descending upon NM. They are just people, Presbyterian people seeking religious freedom to worship god in NM in 2013. The same as the Pilgrim people who arrived in 1620 in the new world seeking religious freedom. This source is promoted itself as a pro-American, preaching the values of parking spaces, while slipping anti-Korean, anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric into the public message. This source person appears to be from the 1930s Bund group, the American equivalent of the Nazi party, and its sordid history is intricately tied to northern New Jersey.
H. Cohn March 07, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Mr. Cohn posted a post that insulted , "Jews like her," because it is "Jews like her"(you can insert any religion), who think nothing of letting others pay for the upkeep of a sanctuary while they do little or nothing, except use the services paid for by others. If she or others are "insulted" by it being pointed out that they are like parasites, remember the quote, "If the shoe fits, wear it."
H. Cohn March 07, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Dear Bubble, try comprehending what you read before you reply to it, or about it. Rest assured that Mr. Cohn is an individual. There was no "Jew insult." The insult was to the Jew who wants a synagogue to be there when needed but is not willing to financially support the synagogue so that it can be there.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something