It was a happy day yesterday for the family and friends of Hy Genee, the longtime leader of Kehila Kedosha Janina, the historic Greek Jewish synagogue on the Lower East Side.
Mayor de Blasio signed legislation designating a section of Broome Street “Hy Genee Way.” A co-naming ceremony will take place later this year. Kehila Kedosha Janina, located at 280 Broome St., just west of Allen Street, is a city landmark and the only Greek Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Genee was president of the synagogue for more than 50 years. He died at the age of 83 in 2006.
Among those in attendance yesterday were Lois Genee Ledner and Marty Genee, Hy’s children. In a statement, Ladner described her father as, “the son of immigrants from Greece, a tailor by trade and a rabbi in his heart and soul whose love for his synagogue, Romaniote liturgy and traditions and the Lower East Side have led to this day.”
She added, “My brother and I look forward to the day when we can discuss his legacy with his great-grandchildren and show them ‘Hy Genee Way.’”
City Council member Margaret Chin was also present for the signing.
Earlier this year, Community Board 3 approved a resolution in support of the co-naming. Here’s the full text:
WHEREAS, Hy Genee, late President and Spiritual Leader of Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue, which is the only Greek Jewish Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, passed away on February 13, 2006. He was 83 years old; and WHEREAS, Hy was born on the Lower East Side, on Orchard Street, and lived his entire life within the confines of the Lower East Side. It was a world that defined him and a world he was so proud to be a part of. He worked as a tailor to support his family, but was always educating himself about the world, his religion and his culture, not for self-gratification but as a means of educating others. Whatever he did, whether it was making a pair of pants or leading his congregation at Kehila Kedosha Janina, he did with pride, not the pride that puts one above others but, rather, a joy in knowing who you are, where you came from and where you are going; and WHEREAS, Hy single-handedly kept Kehila Kedosha Janina, located at 280 Broome Street, alive for over fifty years, saw the synagogue/museum become an historical landmark, and loved being part of his special Greek Jewish world. There was not a person who met Hy who was not touched by him. One can still feel his presence on the street. Ten years later neighbors still remember him as he walked from East 6th Street down to Broome and Allen Streets. In so many ways Hy exemplifies the Lower East Side, a vibrancy that cannot be found anywhere else; a mixture of ethnicities that live side by side bringing a special flavor and vitality to the neighborhood; and WHEREAS, The block of Broome Street between Allen & Eldridge Streets is home to Kehila Kedosha Janina, and was once the epicenter of Greek Jewish Romaniote immigration at the turn of the 20th Century. Hundreds of Greek Jewish families once lived in the tenements on this block, which contributed to the establishment of the current synagogue building in 1927. Today community members fondly recall sharing holidays and celebrations with other neighbors on this block; and WHEREAS, There is substantial community support for co-naming the block of Broome Street between Allen & Eldridge Streets as “Hy Genee Way,” as evidenced by a petition signed by 153 residents of this block, and 13 businesses located on this block, as well as additional letters of support. The CB 3 guidelines for requests for street co-naming require a petition signed by 150 residents for blocks with fewer than 200 residential units and 75% of the businesses on the affected block, in part to ensure that the local community is aware of and supports the street co=naming; now THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that CB 3 formally requests the NY City Council and the Mayor to enact legislation co-naming Broome Street between Allen & Eldridge Streets as “Hy Genee Way.”