Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.




Yiddishe Cup does the occasional Torah march.  We escort Torah scrolls and marchers in a parade from a “desanctified” synagogue to a newer synagogue.

We’re doing a Torah march Sunday, going from tiny Congregation Bethanyu in Pepper Pike, Ohio, to B’nai Jeshurun Congregation (BJ), a half mile away.

BJ is a shul-eater.  It eats guppy shuls.

BJ is one of two “big tent” Conservative synagogues in Cleveland.  The other is Park Synagogue.  Park is bigger, but BJ is working on its mergers and acquisitions.

Two of BJ’s “guppy” meals were temples that had split off from BJ and — after decades of independence — re-docked with the mother ship (BJ).

Jewish unity: Jewnity. Jewnity means all Jews under one roof.

Rabbi Milton Rube, the emeritus rabbi at Bethanyu — the tiny shul that is closing — had been an assistant rabbi at BJ in the 1970s, when he and a group of young congregants split off.   That’s how it goes; the young rabbi and young congregants think the stodgy old rich members are running the show too much.


March of the Torahs, Pepper Pike

Last month, in the Cleveland Jewish News, Rabbi Rube said he personally won’t re-dock with BJ.  He’s joining Park — the competition.

This is newsworthy, but not everybody thinks so.  I tried to discuss Rabbi Rube at shabbes dinner (because temple gossip is a shabbes tradition at my house), but my friends at the shabbes table didn’t know what I was talking about.  Did they even read the Cleveland Jewish News?  No.  Did they think the Jewish News was only for their parents?  Yes. And their parents are mostly dead.

What if some day there is only one “big tent” Conservative shul left in Cleveland?  Which will it be, Park or BJ?  Who’s interested in that discussion?

If you are, please bring a challah (preferably from On the Rise bakery), a side dish and terrific chocolate dessert to my house this Friday night.
THIS BLOG IS UPDATED every Wednesday morning.  No more Friday morning updates. (Nobody was checking in then anyhow.)

Please stop by here every Wednesday morning for the latest.  That’s probably what you’re already doing.

The Wednesday-morning tan email reminders will continue to go out, as usual.

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1 Hermine Wieder { 04.06.11 at 9:33 am }

Would love to discuss that with you, but not at a shabbes dinner. Lunch?

We were at BJ with the YPC, but left for Beth Am before the split.

Shul Business!!!!!!

2 Susan Greene { 04.06.11 at 9:46 am }

If I were feeling better, it would be my pleasure to bake my own challot and chocolate cake for you. I have been baking since I was a baby, and I don’t have anyone to bake for anymore.

3 Bill Jones { 04.06.11 at 9:47 am }

Todah rabah for the shabbat invite, Bert.

The mergers of shuls is simple demographics, Bert. Shul -goers are getting fewer and fewer in number. Larger shuls can offer a broader spectrum of services, as well as a greater community to belong to.

Small shuls have become unaffordable if their members want more than just davening and some rabbinic insights on a regular basis.

Park and B’nai Jeshurun offer significant differences within the Conservative stream, so it’s not like choice has disappeared.

No doubt, this same manifestation is affecting Reform congregations, and mergers will no doubt happen in that community as well.

I don’t have any sense of what is happening in the rigorously Orthodox community (certainly it is affecting Modern Orthodox), but they are generally beneath the radar, since they have comparatively small-sized congregations and facilities.

Rube’s apparent position in the spectrum of Conservative Judaism (liberal) makes more sense at Park than BJ, so he’s made a good choice, it would seem.

Rabbi Shapiro, Bethanyu’s current rabbi, will be very welcome at BJ. She comes out of the same JTS class as Rabbi Weiss, and she’s a masterful sermonizer, who will be heartily welcomed by those at BJ who enjoyed Rabbi Schachter’s d’var Torahs. BJ is fortunate to have her.

4 Kenny G { 04.06.11 at 10:18 am }

Major topic to me! We’d actually take you up on the Fri. offer, but my brother and sister-in-law are coming for a rare visit, and we plan to have them that evening.

Rain check? Lunch – e.g. downtown on a weekday?

Yes, I’ve noticed the irony, with both congregations breaking away and then returning.

As for the Orthodox, I follow those, too, and that community seems to be doing extremely well in Greater Cleveland. Little congregations keep forming and meeting, to the detriment of every existing one struggling for a minyan.

They certainly don’t need another rabbi emeritus at B’nai Jeshurun, and it seems to me the Bethaynu rabbi’s chumminess with the BJ rabbi has been too instrumental in the whole undertaking. Could Bethaynyu really not survive?

BJ always seemed to me a bit more like my congregation in Rochester, N.Y. (Beth El), than Park.

Were it [BJ] not to have flown the coop to Pepper Pike, we’d have been more likely to join there. I really, really like a congregation’s having ONE facility.

It’s interesting to note Beth Am really merged into BJ (except their name never got added – too bad), while Bethaynu is really folding, I’ve read.

Wonder what’s becoming of all the historic items. I guess we can forget about Confirmation photos – I don’t think they ever had it.

My sister-in-law’s cousins were among those who left BJ around ’70 with Rabbi Rube, but they’re going back to BJ now, even though they’re friendly with R. Rube….

5 Ted { 04.06.11 at 11:52 am }

So to use an analogy from the business world, BJ is the AT&T of congregations?

6 Bert { 04.06.11 at 1:37 pm }

To Ted:

I don’t think BJ is the AT&T of Conservative shuls in Cleveland, because it’s not the biggest.

Park has about 1800 families, according to the CJN. BJ has about 1000 families (pre-Bethanyu merger).

Bethanyu had about 325 families.

7 diddle { 04.06.11 at 2:08 pm }

killer illustrations

8 MARC { 04.06.11 at 2:10 pm }

Great blog, as always. Keep up the good work, and a happy Pesach to you and your family.

I’m taking the yom tovs off this year — my first time ever. I’m becoming Orthodox in my old age.

9 Kenny G { 04.07.11 at 10:20 am }

The only synagogue that ever merged into Park, that I know of, was Brith Emeth. Reform, yet. I wonder how much difference it made. Never recall running into anyone at Park who says they were at Brith Emeth.

10 adrianne greenbaum { 04.09.11 at 1:01 am }

Uh, I was interested in discussing at great length this Park vs. BJ and drove 9 hours to your house. Thanks for the mass invite. Not very personal, but we’ll take it.

But maybe I actually had the wrong house as you weren’t there!!

I’m home now….

11 Kenny G { 04.27.11 at 10:22 am }

Discussion of any such theme – of major interest any time of mutual convenience….

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