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The consecration of the sanctuary of Central Synagogue was celebrated with joy and dignity. It was also celebrated with intense security measures, both highly visible and behind-the-scenes. More than 150 police officers were on duty at the event, and private security firm GSS was responsible for protecting the historic building and the cordoned-off area surrounding it, admitting 3,000 guests and watching over the procession of the Torahs for reconsecration. The event also closed down Lexington Avenue from 54th to 57th Streets, and 55th Street from Third Avenue to Park Avenue.
The event was a long-awaited ceremony, coming three years after a fire damaged much of the historic building, the synagogue of many prominent Jewish New Yorkers. With a guest list that included such government and religious dignitaries as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Governor George Pataki, Cardinal Edward Egan and Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, the high security was necessary. But despite these measures, the consecration “had a very sanctimonious feel to it,” event legend Robert Isabell told us. “That's very hard to do on the steps of a building.” Isabell's company helped organize the event and provided flowers and linens in warm, autumn-inspired hues.