With Our Thanks:

-Former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz
-Former NY City Councilman Michael C. Nelson

Councilmembers: -Darlene Mealy, Stephen Levin, Chaim Deutsch, David Greenfield

-Jim Goldman, Charles Diker, Lloyd Handwerker, Hon Alice Fisher Rubin, Lowell Rubin, Raoul Felder bhs-logo2

Religious Life

By Sarina Roffe
Brooklyn has the greatest density of Jews in the world and the faces of Judaism are reflected in its people. From the various sects of Hasidic Jews to progressive and humanistic Judaism, Brooklyn has it all.

Religious life in Brooklyn takes on many different faces during the course of the year. It also varies by neighborhood. From Williamsburg to Borough Park, from Crowne Heights to Brighton Beach, the neighborhood scene changes depending on the group, its ancestry, as well as its adaptations to Brooklyn’s life.

In preparation for the observance of the Sabbath, neighborhood stores in many Jewish neighborhoods, are filled with shoppers purchasing food to prepare for the Sabbath meals. Jewish-owned businesses and schools will close early on Friday so they can be ready at sundown when the Sabbath begins, and then reopen after the Sabbath ends.

In certain neighborhoods, stores are closed on Saturday, and businesses are open on Sundays. Even banks will vary their hours to accommodate local Sabbath and local holiday observances. On Fridays, in anticipation of the Sabbath, street corners in residential neighborhoods are filled with vendors selling flowers to adorn the Sabbath table. Cars are rarely seen driving in these neighborhoods on the Sabbath.

Heavily Jewish neighborhoods reflect the year-round changes as different holidays and traditions are observed. The Jewish year begins in the fall with Rosh Hashanah. For the Jewish New Year, the streets are filled with people walking to and from their synagogues dressed in their finery, to and from family members to celebrate holiday meals.

In the days after Rosh Hashanah, kaparot markets open, also known as shlogn kapores. Special markets open for the traditional symbolic sacrifice of chickens during the Days of Awe, the eight days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

In the few days after Yom Kippur, many Jews around the borough are busy building their family sukkah – a temporary hut or simple dwelling, for use during the holiday of Succoth, the fall harvest festival. Drive through Brooklyn neighborhoods and you will see a multitude of sukkahs filling driveways, porches, and back yards. Specialty stores open to sell Sukkah supplies. And on street corners, you will often see tables set up to sell lulav and etrogs, necessary supplies for the holiday.

During December, for the eight days of Hanukah, menorahs of all kinds will appear in windows and in public parks to commemorate the Maccabean victory of the Assyrians.

In late February or March, a multitude of children will appear dressed in the characters of the Purim story and other festive costumes. And a month later, when Passover arrives, stores will be filled with matza and kosher for Passover foods, necessary for families to eat during the eight day holiday and the two Passover Seders.

The neighborhoods evolve with the holiday seasons and with the needs of their inhabitants. Brooklyn Jews hail from all over the world. Whether it’s Russian Jews in Brighton Beach, Syrian Jews in Flatbush or Eastern Europeans in Crown Heights, each neighborhood is a reflection of the customs of the Jewish people who live there.

Branching Out From Sepharad: Traces Community History And Selected Rabbinic Dynasties

After 15 years of research, BJHI Co-chair Sarina Roffé has completed Branching Out From Sepharad (New York: Sephardic Heritage Project, 2017). Dedicated to her grandparents, Joe and Frieda Missry, Roffé outlines the global journey of selected rabbinic families from Iberia to Syria to the Americas. With the Foreword written by Dr. Walter Zenner A’H, Branching [more …]Branching Out From Sepharad: Traces Community History And Selected Rabbinic Dynasties

East Midwood Jewish Center – 90 Years


90 years ago, a group of committed Brooklyn Jews came together to articulate a vision. They wanted to build a Jewish Center – a collective home to live their Jewish lives. It would be a uniquely American edifice; a place not only to pray, celebrate holidays, raise Jewish families, and explore the endless [more …]East Midwood Jewish Center – 90 Years

Finding Faith and Beauty in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

Originally published in Time by Olivier Laurent

For four years, Italian photographer Federica Valabrega has photographed the everyday lives of Orthodox Jewish women around the world “For some people, if you’re religious, you’re ugly,” says Federica Valabrega, an Italian photographer who for the past four years has been documenting Jewish women across [more …]Finding Faith and Beauty in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

VIDEO: Simchat Torah in Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Daily Eagle – Oct. 17, 2014 Remsen St. became a block party on Thursday night as members of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and Congregation B’nai Avraham spilled out onto the street to dance with Torah scrolls. They were celebrating Simchat Torah (or Joy of Torah). Simchat Torah marks the cyclical tradition of reciting the [more …]VIDEO: Simchat Torah in Brooklyn Heights

New program bonds Israeli and American Jews in Brooklyn Heights

IAC-Shishi Israeli Program to Combine Tradition, Music By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle Singing and sharing a meal together is a universal joy. A new program coming to Brooklyn Heights will celebrate song cuisine and togetherness as it is experienced in Israeli culture. IAC-Shishi Israeli, a new program of the Israeli-American Council [more …]New program bonds Israeli and American Jews in Brooklyn Heights

Jewish, Muslim Communities Break Bread Together in Brooklyn

Published in the Brooklyn Eagle – August 5, 2014

Dinner Brings Together Communities for Ramadan And ‘The Three Weeks’ of Bein HaMeitzarim

Members of Brooklyn’s Jewish and Muslim communities broke bread together at a unique multi-cultural dinner on Thursday, July 24 at Congregation Mount Sinai.

The Ramadan Iftar dinner coincided with [more …]Jewish, Muslim Communities Break Bread Together in Brooklyn

Rabbi Matt Carl Named New Spiritual Leader of East Midwood Jewish Center

Published in the Jewish Voice – WEDNESDAY, 30 JULY 2014

Rabbi Matt Carl, the new rabbi at the East Midwood Jewish Center, a 90 year old conservative, egalitarian congregation.

Rabbi Matt Carl, a rabbi, educator and environmentalist, has been named as the new Rabbi of the East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC). The announcement was [more …]Rabbi Matt Carl Named New Spiritual Leader of East Midwood Jewish Center

Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass to Be Honored

By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor – Brooklyn Daily Eagle Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass to Be Honored for 36 Years of Service To East Midwood Jewish Center at June 8 Dinner-Dance Honoree Is Also Longest-Serving NYPD Chaplain Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass will be honored at the East Midwood Jewish Center’s (EMJC) 90th Annual Dinner-Dance for 36 [more …]Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass to Be Honored

Program Explores Odyssey of Jews to Brooklyn

The Institute of Living Judaism in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative and the Kane Street Synagogue present “Strangers in a Strange Land: How We Ended Up in Brooklyn” next weekend.

A panel of leading Jewish History scholars will be featured, [more …]Program Explores Odyssey of Jews to Brooklyn

Brooklyn – A Boro Transformed

5777 View Our Sukkots in Brooklyn Video Throughout Brooklyn, the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn) was blown during the two days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year welcoming in the year 5774. The holiday was the beginning of a month of holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) and a transformation of the [more …]Brooklyn – A Boro Transformed