LES Celebrates the Greek Jewish History of Broome Street with Co-naming of ‘Hy Genee Way’ [PHOTOS]

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 at 5:05 am by
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What’s often considered the smelliest block in Manhattan now has a more honorable distinction.

Yesterday afternoon, relatives, congregants, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, members of Community Board 3, and others assembled at the corner of Broome and Allen to celebrate the official unveiling of “Hy Genee Way” outside Kehila Kedosha Janina. The co-naming ceremony was a festive occasion marked with history, Jewish tradition, and remembrance of a man who dedicated his life to the synagogue and his home on the Lower East Side.

“My father kept it going through the lean years,” son Martin Genee noted. “[The co-naming] is a lasting monument to a great man … now when you send a letter to 280 Hy Genee Way, the synagogue will receive it.”

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The Genee family with commemorative street sign

Lean years is right. During the darker days of the ’70s and’80s, museum director Marcia Ikonomopoulos spoke about how she often questioned why they stayed in the neighborhood, but that Genee always insisted. “What’s going to happen when you’re not around,” she would ask. To which the former president would respond that people carry on after, “just look at Moses.”

“He was a simple man with a sincere love for his heritage,” current president Marvin Marcus echoed.

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Hy Genee’s granddaughter

Hyman Genee was born in 1922 on Orchard Street, and spent his life devoted to his family, his work as a tailor around the corner on Delancey, and as president of spiritual leader of the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue – the only Greek Jewish Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. He died in 2006 at the age of 83.

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