The History of Midway Jewish Center

The idea of starting our synagogue began in the summer of 1953.  High holiday services were held that September under a tent at the southeast corner of South Oyster Bay Road and Woodbury Road where Bed Bath and Beyond currently stands.  In October a meeting was held with 60 families in attendance at the Shaari Zedek synagogue in Hicksville.  It was at this meeting that the decision was made for the new congregation to affiliate with the Conservative movement.  Rather than Orthodox or Reform, members chose the “middle way” which gave birth to the name of the synagogue that would be called Midway Jewish Community Center.  Soon after Community was dropped from the name.  

During the first year monthly meetings were held at the Israel Community Center in Levittown.  In the summer of 1954 a plot of land was purchased at 330 South Oyster Bay Road in Hicksville (it wasn’t until 1962 that the area was rezoned into Syosset) that included a house and two barns on the property.  One of the barns was converted for use as the synagogue and the other was space for teenagers while the house was utilized as classroom space for the Hebrew school.  The congregation was growing and before too long the space was no longer sufficient.  A mortgage for a new building was obtained thanks to 20 members who agreed to sign contracts where they would be held personally responsible for the loan.  Ground breaking on the new synagogue took place on December 2, 1956.   Less than a year later the building was sufficiently ready to hold High Holiday services in 1957 but was not completed and formally dedicated until May 4, 1958.       

Recognition of the new synagogue building was bestowed by politicians from Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John J. Burns who attended the dedication to President Dwight Eisenhower who sent a letter of congratulations.

 

By September 1958 Midway had 400 members.  Just four years later a fund was started to expand the synagogue and construct a Youth Building.  Over the next three years fundraising efforts continued until the groundbreaking of the Youth Building was held on April 26, 1964.  The space would include 12 new classrooms on the lower level and an all purpose room on the upper level that eventually became a gym with a full size basketball court.  The Youth Building was completed and dedicated less than six months later on October 4.   

With ample space for educating the children synagogue membership grew to 650 member families by November 1965, but only students beginning in kindergarten could attend religious school at Midway.  A nursery school program began in 1977 in the split-level house located on the synagogue property that was previously used as the Rabbi’s residence.  Expansion of this property and a renovation of the nursery school building occurred in 2004. 

In 2007 Midway merged with Bethpage Jewish Community Center, a traditional conservative congregation located at 600 Broadway in Bethpage.  BJCC was founded on September 6, 1955 and opened their synagogue building in April 1960.  A fire destroyed much of the synagogue on October 25, 1969 but was rebuilt and rededicated on April 23, 1972.

While merger proceedings were going on there was also a Kesher campaign that had begun with the intention of raising funds toward renovating what was now a building that was over 50 years old.  Features of the renovation included the installation of an elevator, conversion of the gym into more usable space and a central lobby entrance area.  Construction on the new facility was completed in May 2012.

In 2015 the final phase of the Kesher campaign was completed with a total renovation of the sanctuary that was rededicated on July 31.