BROAD STREET SYNAGOGUE
The Broad Street Synagogue Project is multi-tiered - one part real estate, one part historical preservation, and one part community organizing. The project revolves around Temple Beth El, an abandoned synagogue on the South Side of downtown Providence. First built in 1911, Beth El experienced a growing Jewish community, but as the Jewish population tripled over the next 30 years the community migrated to the East Side of Providence. In the 1950s the temple was sold to another congregation. Six years ago, that congregation abandoned it and the temple has sat empty since: a shadow and a shell of what was once a vital landmark of the local community.
In the past year, the temple has become subject to weather damage and vandalism. Tim Natividad, along with working partners Adam Bush and Sam Seidel, have negotiated a deal to purchase the synagogue from the current owners. A wide variety of partnerships are being negotiatied as well as the necessary support to repair the building and found a 501(c)(3) organization to steward its use. Through their efforts the Broad Street Synagogue will take on a new life as a cultural, spiritual, and community space.
Space is an overlooked consideration, especially in regards to the issue of community organizing. At Brown University, it was only after getting introduced to the Third World Center that I realized there was a lot about my history that I didn't understand - the Asian American movement, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and all the reasons why my parents were able to move from the Philippines. Shortly after my first year at Brown I declared an Ethnic Studies concentration and committed myself to better understanding the way systems and organizations can work to make our world better, specifically for underprivileged communities.
I believe the key to making our world better is more complex than the corporate/non-profit binary. Complicating this binary has concerned the bulk of my projects at Brown, including the Broad Street Synagogue Project which will require a series of real estate development and historical preservation intellect. Providence is rich with resources and community organizations, and one of the only limiting constraints is space. By developing and revitalizing the Broad Street Synagogue, I hope to harmonize my passions and contribute to the growing Providence community.