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    Irwin did many things that I believe gave him pride.  I think that one of things that he was most proud of was the role he played in the establishment of the New Milford Jewish Community Center in New Milford, New Jersey.  As president for two terms and spokesman for the congregation he was instrumental in bringing the Synagogue into existence despite a good deal of resistance from the community.

    The following articles a just a small handful from the many to choose from that provide an interesting chronology of the effort to establish the Community Center.

SEPTEMBER 25, 1952

Franzel Named President of Jewish Center

    NEW MILFORD - At the meeting of the Tri-Borough Jewish Community Center, held Monday evening in the Fellowship room of the Presbyterian Church, the following officers were elected: Irwin Franzel, president; Sol Berman, vice-president; Mrs. Sidney Saslow, recording secretary; Mrs. Phil Stempler, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Samuel Weissberger, treasurer.
    The Board of Directors comprises Morry Wanetik, Dr.Burt Stavitsky, Dr. Ed Shakin, Lawrence Solomon and Mrs. Paul Beer.
    Installation will be held Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. at the Old Hook Inn, Emerson. Mrs. Solomon may be reached at Oradell 8-3649-R for reservations.

October 16, 1952

Mayor Speaks At Installation of Jewish Center

    NEW MILFORD - Mayor Mario LaBarbera was guest speaker and presided at the first installation ceremonies of the new officers of the Tri-Borough Jewish Community Center held Oct. 15 at Old Hook Inn, Emerson. Over 50 attended.
    Installed were Irwin Franzel, president; Sol Berman, vice-president; Mrs. Sidney Saslow, recording secretary, Mrs. Phillip Stempler, corresponding secretary; and Mrs. Samuel Weissberger, treasurer.
    The 1951-52 officers and board of directors presented a gift to the retiring president, Morry Wanetik.
    Dancing was enjoyed and music was provided by William Hartmann, Jr., on the accordion.

February 15, 1953

3 Boroughs Unite To Build Jewish Center

    NEW MILFORD - A Triborough Jewish Community Center will be constructed this fall on River Road and Myrtle Avenue to serve the spiritual needs of Central Bergen's growing Jewish population.
    The one-story building, to be patterned after colonial-style architecture of surrounding homes, will be the focal point for services, Sunday School, and community activities.
    Irwin H. Franzel, president, said the congregation would be drawn from New Milford, River Edge and Oradell.
    He estimated there are upwards of 800 Jewish worshipers in the Triborough area. At present, the nearest synagogue is the Bergenfield-Dumont Jewish Community Center.
    Plans are being completed by the New York architectural firm of Samuel Kessler and Sons, designers of the Fort Lee Synagogue and other North Jersey temples.
    On the basis of preliminary blueprints, Franzel said the brick building would take shape with a Georgian-style facade, peaked roof, and an overall design matching surrounding architecture.
    It will be 40-feet wide, 50-feet deep, and 18-feet from floor to ceiling. The single-room interior will be broken up with sliding panels to permit its division into separate club and classrooms. At present, Sunday School classes are held in Steuben School, New Milford.
    The Ark housing the Holy Torah will face east as required by Hebrew law and will be protected from the rest of the room by special curtains when non-religious functions are scheduled.
    The property on which the new temple will be built was purchased last month for $3,700 from Henry L. Cordier, River Edge real estate dealer. A title search now in progress is expected to continue until March 1.
    Franzel said the completed building should cost about $20,000 and a Triborough fund-raising drive to get pledges for that amount is currently underway.
    "So far the response has been excellent," he said. "A preliminary announcement at Friday night services to the effect we wanted to erect our own synagogue inspired pledges of more than $1,700."
    Franzel said a day or two later word had spread so rapidly pledges for more than $3,000 had been received. It was then that the Community Center decided to purchase the site on the northeast corner of Myrtle Avenue and River Road.
    To keep costs down, members of the projected congregation have volunteered to assist with carpentry, painting, and some of the interior workmanship.
    Looking toward the day when it will outgrow its one-story quarters, the congregation instructed Kessler to design the building with an eye to future expansion. Additions - both outside and upward - are being incorporated into the preliminary design.
    The building has been purposely set back 70 feet from the sidewalk to permit an addition to the front if necessary. The peaked roof will be of plywood composition so it can be easily removed for construction of a second story.
    In case a second-story becomes necessary, said Franzel, the chapel will be housed upstairs and Sunday School and club rooms will occupy the lower floor.
    Space has been reserved in the rear for a parking lot. Kessler is slated to complete his architectural drawings of the interior and exterior layout of the structure in time for inspection by the Borough Council building committee "within a month or two," Franzel predicted.

Bergenfield, New Jersey, March 26, 1953

Jewish Center Plans Are Protested Here

    NEW MILFORD - The portion of the regular meeting of the Mayor Council on Monday evening opened for topics of public interest saw an active discussion revolving about the proposed Jewish Community Center planned for Myrtle Avenue and River Road.
    The initial complaint was that it was being built in a residential area and would detract from the quiet and residential character of the neighborhood. As was stated by Mrs. Nassar, the Tri-Borough Center as its name implied, would draw from New Milford, Oradell and River Edge as well as Paramus. As is usually the case in centers of this kink, there are several activities during the week in addition to religious services, all of which would combine to create a parking nuisance for the neighboring homes as well as a traffic hazard on River Road. Mayor LaBarbera replied that as yet no application had been made for a building permit and therefore the Borough was in no position to take any action for or against the Center. On the suggestion that the Center be restricted for the use of New Milford residents LaBarbera was emphatic that the American way of life does not tell a person where or when he may attend religious services. He further observed that any investment in a House of Worship that helped to get people to come to church more often was an asset to any community.
    A representative of the proposed Center said that the Committee had volunteered to meet with any of the signers of the petition objecting to the new building and to discuss with them any of their objections.. This position was supported by President Irwin Franzel who announced he had just come from a meeting during which the name had been officially changed to the New Milford Jewish Community Center. He read a prepared statement about the conference with the originator and signers of the petition and he asked any resident who had a question or objection to communicate with him. On the most discussed issue of parking, Franzel said that they have some ground available and were endeavoring to add to their holding in order to provide as much off-street parking as was possible.

April 30, 1953

Jewish Center OK'd

Special to News-Graphic
    NEW MILFORD - The props were pulled out from under opponents of the proposed Jewish Community Center today by Mayor Mario R. LaBarbera.
    In a carefully worded statement designed to pave the way for construction of the new temple if it jives with legal restrictions, LaBarbera said:
    "If the building plans comply with building ordinances of the borough of New Milford, by all means a building permit will be issued."
    Speaking for himself, and inferentially for the Borough Council, the borough chief executive told the News-Graphic n an exclusive interview:
    "I fail to see the difference between the proposed synagogue and any other proposed structure for this area.
    "The synagogue founders will be treated like any other petitioner. There will be no difference. We put no stock in anything but the law."
    LaBarbera's statement was seen as an indirect reference to a group of 20 home-owners who filed a protest against the temple to be built at the corner of River Road and Myrtle Ave.
    Without coming out in direct opposition to their petition of last month, the Mayor indicated their protests would be put aside once preliminary building plans show the construction code will be complied with.
    "That applies to zoning, foundation strength, design, and the rest that goes with it," he said. "That will be our only criteria for approval or otherwise."
    LaBarbera's announcement marks the end of a see-saw battle that has been raging in and out of Council for the past two months.
    It ends the hopes of petitioners that official opposition to the center could be spurred on the basis of parking and zoning "complications."
    The announcement, dovetailing with a disclosure that the Center had acquired the necessary land, paves the way for the first Jewish worship center in the Triborough area.
    Fund-raising activities, in anticipation of an official okay, have been underway for months. Preliminary plans have been prepared by the firm of Samuel J. Kessler and Sons, architects.
    Designed to harmonize with buildings of the surrounding area, the center will be a one-story structure of colonial style. It will be 40-feet wide, 50-feet deep, and 18-feet from floor to ceiling.


Preliminary Estimates Expected For Jewish Community Center

Construction Costs Will Be Ready In 10 Days

    New Milford - Preliminary estimates of construction costs for a Jewish Community Center to serve almost 1,000 Jewish residents of the Borough are expected to be made within the next 10 days according to a statement today by Irwin H. Franzel, president of the local Center.

    The new building to be erected on River Road should enter its first phase of construction in the near future, Franzel said it will be a general purpose building to provide for the immediate needs of the unit.
    Architectural drawings and prints made for the center by Samuel J. Kessler and Sons of New York, will stress space for a temple, a Sunday School, and a general purpose room for activities of various civic and religious organizations in the Community, Franzel said.
    The two-story building will house a kitchen, classrooms, and storage room on the lower floor. The upper floor will house the temple. A wing will provide a recreational room for Borough youths, and for adult members of the Community.
    The entire membership is engaged in fund-raising activities for the erection of the building. To date, the group has sponsored a square dance and a dinner dance, both bringing favorable response from the town's citizens, Franzel stated.
    The Center's president announced the unit would hold another fund campaign during the week of May 31. A bazaar will be held adjacent to the Brookchester Shopping Center on River Road.
    Franzel said every member of the Jewish Center is working now to arrange the affair. He thanked residents of the Borough for their support of the unit's projects.

September 2, 1954

Services for Jewish High Holy Days Will Start Sept. 25 in New Milford
    NEW MILFORD - High Holy Days services will be held again under the auspices of the Jewish Community Center here, it was announced at the first meeting of the season this week held in the Fellowship Room of the Presbyterian Church.
    Services will be held at the new Bridge Inn, starting Monday evening, Sept. 27 at 7 o'clock. The Inn has a completely separate and large room with a private entrance which have been made available to the local Jewish families at this time. Families are invited to worship with the group and tickets for the services will be sent through the mail this week.
    Plans for the building which will house the Temple of the Jewish Community Center were unanimously approved and accepted by the membership Monday evening and it is everyone's goal that next year High Holy Day services will be held within the Center's own building.
    Edwin Barnett, as president of the Center introduced the new officers and members of the Board of Directors. He described the diligent work done throughout the summer by the various committees which will make this coming season one of great advancement of Jewish activities within the Borough.
    Religious school, under the direction of Rabbi Jacob Leiter, will hold registration Sept. 12 and be from 10 a.m. to noon at the Steuben School. The grades this year are designed as Kindergarten, age 5, Primary age 6 and 7, Intermediate, age 8 and 9, and Advanced age 10 and up. The first three grades will meet as previously set, Sunday morning, 10 a.m. to noon at the Steuben School, however, the advanced class will have two additional sessions each week in addition to Sunday classes.
    Irwin Franzel, as out-going president, was presented with a beautiful wrist watch as a small token for his untiring and unceasing efforts on behalf of the Center during his two years in office.
    Religious articles for use in your home will be on sale in the near future for the building fund.
    Many new Jewish residents attended Monday's meeting and during the social hour new acquaintances were made and old friendships renewed.

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