Saturday, June 3, 2023

Lenora Garfinkel

In the world of Orthodox Judaism, men may run the synagogues — but Lenora Garfinkel built them.

Lenora Garfinkel was born in the Bronx in 1930. Garfinkel was one of the first women to study architecture at the prestigious Cooper Union College in New York and went on to build Jewish community buildings across the New York metropolitan area over the course of a career spanning more than six decades. Her designs included the massive Viznitz Chasidic synagogue in Kaser, the Atrium wedding venue in Monsey, and multiple schools and ritual bath houses.

“There are very few frum architects with a sheitel with five kids that are specializing in frum buildings,” said Garfinkel’s daughter Letitia Dahan Forspan. “She was an expert in the halachot of building religious buildings, mikvahs and shuls based on halacha. That’s why they came to her. She sat with any rabbi making these plans like one of them.”

Garfinkel died of COVID-19 on April 29, 2020 at the age of 89.

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