Ansche Chesed is a Conservative Shul or Synagogue located on the Upper West side of Manhattan, New York. Ansche Chesed has a beautiful sanctuary with traditional, conservative roots, and is deeply committed to its community of young families.
Review By Jewishly:
Ansche Chesed is a Conservative Shul or Synagogue that is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I attended Saturday morning services here when a Bat Mitzvah was taking place. The synagogue was quite full, which was nice to see on a Saturday morning. This conservative synagogue has a beautiful exterior, and the inside of the sanctuary is really very pretty. It is hard to beat stained glass windows on the outside of the synagogue, arches, and old wood surrounding the ark.
A women was leading the morning service and people were talking quite loudly, which made it rather hard to pray and connect with the prayers. When I entered the Synagogue, no one greeted me. I was handed a prayer book but no one said anything to me as I received it. I had a question for the two people sitting at the front desk but they were very busy talking with each other, and I had to interrupt them to ask my question.
I was eager to attend services here because I wanted to see how the synagogue served the surrounding community and how they were with the service. I found the service to be very in line with the conservative liturgy and philosophy. I found the service to be a bit dry, and while there was a lot of talking, there was not a lot of participation. I was really missing the heart in the service, and the participation of the members of the community.
I will note that there were a lot of families there with a large range of ages of children. I am also wondering why the community felt so distant from the prayer and what could be done to engage people attending services. I did not find this to be a particularly friendly community but I do think that, as a conservative synagogue on the Upper West Side it services the neighborhood’s needs for a conservative synagogue.
I also found that the website has a very heavy focus on membership and dues. As a millennial, I find the idea of dues to be, well, out of the question. I understand that a synagogue in New York needs to have income to service the community but I feel there is a better way to do this and speak to a younger generation. There was so much talk of membership and dues on the website as well as on the Minyan’s websites that I emailed them asking if new people could come to services. I wasn’t totally sure I would feel comfortable going to services since I wasn’t a member. I also found that while the conservative movement reaches all ages there were mostly families at this Synagogue and very few single people of any age really.
Overall, this is a beautiful building and an egalitarian synagogue on the Upper West Side, but I think it is time for them to push and explore ways to engage their community and invite in the heart of Judaism into how they pray.
251 W 100th Street
New York, NY 10025