Synagogue tone deaf to Holocaust survivors’ noise complaints

All that Holocaust survivors and Manhattan Beach residents Isaac and Rosa Blum are asking for is a little peace and quiet — something they say their neighbor, Congregation Shaarey Torah, is unwilling to provide.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Two Jewish Holocaust victims who survived the Nazis as young adults are being tortured in their twilight years — by a synagogue!

Manhattan Beach octogenarians Isaac and Rosa Blum say they haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since 2009, when their neighbor — Congregation Shaarey Torah — turned on its industrial heating and ventilation unit.

“I suffered because of the Germans, and now I’m suffering from my own people,” said Issac Blum, 89.

The couple says they must plan their sleeping schedules around the monster appliance, which drones away mere feet from their bedroom window on West End Avenue near Oceanview Avenue — where the couple has posted signs in protest.

“We appeal to your conscience and [humanity] to solve this unpleasant situation for the good of all the people that live in this neighborhood!” one missive read, signed plaintively, “Two old Holocaust survivors, Rosa and Isaac Blum.”

Rosa Blum, 87, says she and her husband can only sleep when the unit is off.

“We never know how long we can sleep for,” she explained.

The offending system booms like a car engine and makes their room rumble, the couple’s daughter added.

“It sounds like a diesel truck is outside their window,” said Bea Blum. “Not only is there a huge amount of noise, but it causes the room to vibrate.”

Yet the Blums are getting very little sympathy from the congregation. The Blums say the temple leader, Rabbi Moshe Plutchok, offered to build a sound barrier around the ventilation unit, but only if the pair promised not to complain about it again.

“The rabbi told me they could install some insulation, but we would have to sign an agreement saying that we would not complain any more, even if we’re not satisfied with what they do,” fumed Issac Blum, who hail from Czestochowa, Poland, where he and his wife were among 5,000 out of 50,000 Jews to survive the Germans in 1942. The Blums were forced to make explosives in a labor camp, but spent each day in fear that they would be marched to a gas chamber.

The Blums said the noise from the ventilation unit had gotten so bad that they hired an independent acoustic engineer to verify what they already knew — the unit’s noise levels are illegal.

The couple have filed a handful of complaints with the city, but nothing substantive has been done. The Department of Environmental Protection issued the synagogue a violation, according to the Blums, but the Department of Buildings attempts to get inside and inspect the couple’s complaints were thwarted on three separate occasions. No one has been at the synagogue to allow the inspectors in, according to online records.

Repeated calls to Rabbi Plutchok were not returned.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

With the neighboring synagogue nixing on its promise to reduce the noise emission from its industrial-sized HVAC unit, Isaac and Rosa Blum, two Holocaust survivors, have resorted to posting signs in their window in a desperate bid for peace and quiet.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

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