Emergency Call From Woodbourne
The historic B’nai Israel of Synagogue in Woodbourne, New York, under the leadership of Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, beloved Nikolsburger Rebbe, has issued an emergency call for help in finalizing its preparations to serve the Catskills region and beyond this summer.
The Department of Buildings has determined the shul’s roof, built in 1922, is no longer safe. A simple calculation of the number of minyanim daily, including Shabbos and Sunday, and the average number of mispallelim at each minyan, tells us the shul had upward of 60,000 visits last summer. With so many people using the shul, the safety of its structure is an absolute necessity.
On January 15, 1999, the B’nai Israel Synagogue, with its signature outdoor menorah, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. With its present expanded function, the shul has now also achieved a place in Jewish history as the first shul to have non-stop minyanim in the Catskills. With the shul officially recognized as a historic building, expert workmanship is required to restore the its roof to meet the necessary safety regulations.
Work on the roof work is underway. However, its cost is daunting. Though much emotional and spiritual support has been and continues to be carried by the shul and the Nikolsburger Rebbe, outside financial support is critically needed. The cost of the roof and related expenses totals more than $100,000. With summer just about here, completing the work is now an emergency.
Even the regular day-to-day financial burden of maintaining the warm setting is considerable. Those wishing to use their tzedakah dollars most effectively should consider helping to underwrite this particularly noble effort. Assisting the shul at this time is worth exertion and self-sacrifice. Assuming a share in the tefillahs and Torah-learning taking place at the Woodbourne Shul will surely be noted and rewarded by the Kadosh Baruch Hu.
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During the summer months Woodbourne, officially classified as a hamlet of the town of Fallsburg, sees a dramatic population increase with the influx of observant Jews from all over the greater New York City metropolitan area. Businesses there thrive from the July 4th weekend through Labor Day.
This is the third summer that B’nai Israel Synagogue, on Route 52 (Main Street), will serve the entire Catskills with its 24/7 full-service open-door operations. It exerts a powerful magnetic force throughout the Catskills, with a minyan every fifteen minutes (or even more frequently) and often multiple minyanim in its main sanctuary, beis medrash, and vestibule, drawing mispallelim from the length and breadth of the vacation region and beyond. The Woodbourne Shul now ranks with such famous minyan venues as Shomrei Shabbos in Boro Park, Veretzkier in Flatbush, and Lederman in Bnei Brak.
Prior to the summer of 2010, the Nikolsburger Rebbe formally met with the B’nai Israel administration, and with their overwhelming support assumed leadership of the Woodbourne Shul. The board of B’nai Israel must be applauded for their many years of self-sacrifice in preserving the facility. Though the shul had not been fully utilized for years, the board’s resilience in its maintenance must be recognized as an important part of its present spectacular success.
During the regular school year Rabbi Jungreis tirelessly serves as rebbe at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, where he has infused thousands of children through the years with passionate Yiddishkeit. In addition, he leads Beis Medrash Khal Chassidei Nikolsburg-Kollel Boro Park at 4912 Sixteenth Avenue in Brooklyn’s Boro Park neighborhood. There, Rabbi Jungreis exercises a captivating pull on chassidishe youth at risk. This special effort continues in Woodbourne during the summer.
Chassidim of Rabbi Jungreis have again freshened and upgraded the Woodbourne Shul in preparation for the summer season. As in years past, they have rented a home across the street to serve as the Nikolsburger Rebbe’s summer residence.
With the walk-in lower level of the shul having been lovingly refurbished and turned into a large beis medrash with walls of sefarim and Judaica, the shul now comfortably accommodates more than one minyan at a time.
The shul’s doors are opened early. Weekday morning Shacharis officially starts at 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, 10, 10:30 and 11 – and, for night shift workers from 12 p.m. onward. Minchah on Sundays begins at 3 p.m. and continues every 15 minutes thereafter; Minchah during the workweek begins at 5 p.m. and every 15 minutes thereafter; Maariv begins at nightfall and every 15 minutes thereafter.
The last minyan for weekday Maariv is scheduled for 11:45 p.m., but there are times when minyanim continue well past midnight.
Those having a yahrzeit in the Catskills now have a shul where a minyan is guaranteed. Sponsorship of a yahrzeit tikun with lekach and bronfun is no longer a pipe dream.
On Shabbos in Woodbourne, the Nikolsburger Rebbe leads tefillahs and tisch in the shul. The shalosh seudos that lasts beyond the regular Havdalah and a grand melaveh malkah draw large crowds and are appreciated not only by those living nearby but by those who drive there as well.
Another component the Nikolsburger Rebbe introduced in Woodbourne is a constant smorgasbord of cake, nosh, and drinks set out at all times. In addition, during late afternoon and evening hours, chulent and kugel (potato and noodle) are served to all takers. As he does in Boro Park, the Nikolsburger Rebbe generously provides physical as well as spiritual nourishment.
This is reminiscent of Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner, zt”l (1852-1925), beloved Keresturer Rebbe. Reb Shayeleh Keresturer, as he was and still is affectionately known, had an overpowering love for his fellow Jews. He is remembered as a people’s rebbe. In those days, when food was not as abundant as it is today, he always made sure plenty would be on his tisch and that no one would go away hungry. On Rosh Hashanah, in the hour before the sounding of the shofar, when other rebbes isolated themselves and were in deep meditation and contemplation in preparation of the holy moments of tekias shofar, Reb Shayeleh would personally slice and served kokosh cake and other sweets to his chassidim.
With sefarim being brought into the shul on almost daily basis, visitors to Woodbourne have a retreat where they can study their Daf Yomi, Mishnah, Gemara, Chumash, Rambam, Chitas, or Shulchan Aruch daily shiur, check on a halacha or recite Tehillim in sanctified tranquility, mere steps away from the hustle and bustle of Main Street while wives and children shop nearby.
The shul’s 24/7 schedule has had a pronounced and profound effect on Woodbourne. Seeing people on Main Street rushing to the Woodbourne Shul to catch a minyan at all hours is no longer an exception. It is now commonplace.
Brezna Kehilla Hachnassas Sefer Torah
On Sunday, June 17, the Brezna Kehilla of Boro Park celebrated the Siyum HaShas taught and led by Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Neuschloss, Brezna Dayan. Simultaneously, the kehilla celebrated the hachnassas Sefer Torah dedicated by Avrohom Ephraim Kaller in memory of his parents, Menachem Mendel ben Moshe Dovid z”l and Fradel Rochel bas Amron a”h.
The final letters of the Sefer Torah were ceremoniously written at the Kaller home. Then a beautiful and huge escort, featuring much music, song, and dance, was given to the new Sefer Torah as it was brought to the Brezna Beis Medrash at 1563 42nd Street. The joy was indescribable. The exhilarating event was followed by a formal banquet dinner held at the Skverer Hall on 43rd Street. The dinner encapsulated the combined special events of the Siyum HaShas and the Siyum Kesivas Sefer Torah. Rabbi Shulem Neuschloss, esteemed Brezna Rav, was the keynote speaker.
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