David E. Cohen on the Building of the Shaare Zion Synagogue

I was really about 30 years old at the time. They had planned the synagogue on 1750 Ocean Parkway. And then Abe Cohen, who was the chairman of the building committee, and Mrs. Shalom, and Bert Dweck, …they wanted something, regal.  And they bought a plot of land that now is where Shaare Zion sits.

They paid $200,000 for a 150 x 250 lot…And Bert Dweck happened to go on a cruise, and he met a guy by the name of Morris Lapidus. Morris Lapidus lived on Avenue J.  And he used to do stores. He used to do storefronts. So he designed that synagogue the way you see it now. And it was 1952. Morris Lapidus went on, after he designed that synagogue, to build the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, numerous hotels, he’s known all over Aruba. He became tremendously big. So he designed it.  And they started the work on it.

They did some foundation work, and the contractor went bankrupt. Everybody stopped working, you know? They all quit. All the subcontractors walked away.  And it was sitting there two/three years and people were saying, “let’s knock it down, let’s sell it.  We’ll stay where we are.” And, to his credit, Abe Cohen just kept hoping that something was gonna happen. And so I got involved because I asked some questions in a meeting.  I guess I sounded too pushy, but Isaac Shalom encouraged me.  “Keep pushing them,” he said.  Abe Cohen and I became very close friends, and he said, “How’re we gonna build this thing?  So I got involved. — David Eliahu Cohen

 

David Eliyahu Cohen, c. 1960. Image ID # 11764.

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