CROWN HEIGHTS — It was supposed to unite Franklin Avenue’s factions, but a meeting planned as a way to bring the community together has locked out one of the neighborhood’s most significant populations because it occurs on a Saturday — or the Jewish Sabbath.
As tensions continue to simmer between old-timers and newcomers in Crown Heights’ rapidly gentrifying Franklin Avenue corridor, community activists are pinning their hopes for detente on next month’s Crow Hill Community Association Town Hall meeting.
“We wanted to be able to reach out to the biggest possible group,” said Crow Hill Community Association activist Susan Boyle of the March 23 event, which bills itself as bringing together landlords and renters, children and seniors, cyclists and drivers, old residents and new.
“It’s critical for the success of this meeting to have everybody have their voices heard,” she said.
Everybody, that is, except for Franklin Avenue’s Jewish population, whose members say they’re being unfairly excluded because the meeting is being held between noon and 3 p.m. on a Saturday.
“They say they want all voices to be heard, but in order to achieve that, everybody needs to be there or at least have the opportunity to be there. They can’t do that when it’s on [the Jewish Sabbath],” said Rabbi Ari Kirschenbaum of Congregation Kol Israel, a large and growing Orthodox synagogue near the intersection of St. Johns Place and Franklin Avenue in the heart of the Crow Hill corridor.
“It’s disappointing that in a community that’s evolving, that has so many diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, that they wouldn’t consider making it all-inclusive.”
Kirschenbaum and his flock are no strangers to the association. The Crown Heights native is a familiar face on Franklin Avenue, a booster for many local businesses and an avid supporter of previous association events.
“When it’s come to the Franklin Avenue Kids’ Day, we contribute and we participate,” Kirschenbaum said. “We have wonderful relations with all of our neighbors here and there’s mutual respect among everyone in this very diverse neighborhood.”
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