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Although “Empty box in NJ basement held key to Israel’s founding” (May 9) was fascinating, it incorrectly states that Irvington’s B’nai Israel was absorbed into Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange. In fact, it merged with Congregation Ahavas Achim Bikur Cholim (often referred to as “AABC”), which had a huge shul on Chancellor Avenue in Irvington, around 1979.

Here is a fun fact: One plaque at the back of the AABC sanctuary was in honor of the bar mitzvah of Jerry Levitch (later known as “Lewis”).  After the sale of the AABC building, its membership moved to B’nai Israel and its Nye Avenue building. In or around 1993, the B’nai Israel building was sold and that shul merged with Beth Shalom on Vauxhall Road in Union.

My family belonged to AABC for many years, and I had my bar mitzvah there. AABC was led for decades by Rabbi Dr. Leon J. Yagod who, together with Cantor Jack Korbman, prepared thousands of boys and girls for their b’nei mitzvah.

My late father, Gerald (Jerry) Schwartz, was the president of B’nai Israel for nearly 10 years, including at the time of its merger with Beth Shalom.

Who would have guessed that the “empty” space beneath the Nye Avenue shul’s bima could hold such important secrets?

I remember Al Eichler, who was a very fine man, always dressed in a nicely tailored suit and always looking very distinguished with gray hair and round, metal-rimmed glasses. He was highly regarded by the congregation.

I have many fond memories of the “good old days.”

Barry M. Schwartz
West Orange

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