The other night, passing through Times Square with a visiting Californian, we pointed out the Margaritaville Resort, owned by Florida singer Jimmy Buffet.
“Sure, it’s a cheesy chain outpost in the heart of New York City,” we said. “But there’s a Jewish angle.
“The developer agreed to maintain the Garment Center Congregation, which had been housed at the site,” a story we had mentioned on this page back in September 2021.
So imagine our disappointment the following day, when we read in the New York Jewish Week that what we had thought had been an example of Big Apple cultural coexistence is now a court case.
As the headline put it, “Times Square Margaritaville left synagogue ‘homeless,’ suit says.”
According to the Jewish Week, which based its story on reporting in Crain’s New York, the congregation said that developer Sharif El Gamal had failed to fulfill his promise of finding a home for the synagogue after buying and demolishing its building to build the Margaritaville.
Instead, the shul’s suit argued that El Gamal “has intentionally withheld or delayed performing its obligations in the hopes that the congregation’s temporary dislocation would result in depletion or death of its membership, collapse of its community and cessation of its religious and social activities.”
Earlier, El Gamal had bragged that he would be the first Muslim in New York to build a synagogue.
“It sets a real example of the cooperation and the brotherhood and the coexistence that has always existed between us,” Gamal said at the time.
But if the congregation’s court filings are to be believed, what had promised to be an only-in-New-York story turned into just another day in New York.