Almost 30 years ago, a group of forward thinking community members established a local minyan in the Syrian/Sephardic tradition in the quiet Jersey Shore neighborhood of Elberon; and with that, the Park Avenue Synagogue was born. Little did they realize at the time the impact this institution would have on the community at large.
In July 1989, with a dedication by Mr. Jack Mamiye a”h for his mother, Simha Mamiye Dabbah a”h, that local minyan become Congregation Ohel Simha and moved into its own building on Park Avenue with the pledge to be a center of Jewish life for the surrounding area. As the congregation expanded over the years, the rabbis and leaders of Ohel Simha took special care to maintain the warm feeling of the early days as a small neighborhood minyan.
Under the guidance of Rabbi Shmuel Choueka, Ohel Simha has grown by leaps and bounds and now serves the men, women and children – not only in the immediate neighborhood, but throughout the entire Jersey Shore community – with stimulating programs year-round. Amazingly even seasonal members have come to think of Ohel Simha as “their k’nees.”
Several years ago, the synagogue leadership saw that in order to continue to remain at the forefront of service to the community, an extension to the building would be required. Plans were made for additional prayer rooms, additional meeting rooms and the facilities for a social hall where happy occasions could be celebrated. Community support for the project was overwhelming.
On Shabbat Parashat Korah, June 28, 2008, 19 years after Ohel Simha first opened its doors, “Park Avenue Shul” opened up 19,000 square feet of new building space to accommodate the growing needs of our community.
The next day, amid singing from Hazan David Shiro, distinguished rabbis and community leaders gathered in the shul’s new magnificent social hall to celebrate both the inauguration of the new building and the dedication of a new sefer Torah. It was a grand day of celebration for Ohel Simha and all those who love it.
Today, people come from all over to host their celebrations in the new gala social hall; classes are held for men, women and children in all of the classrooms and meeting rooms throughout the building and the sound of prayer can be heard from all corners of the sprawling building. Remarkably, the Ohel Simha pledge of being a center of Jewish life on the Jersey Shore while still maintaining the warm family feeling of a neighborhood minyan has been renewed and continues to glow with service to Hashem yitbarach.