A native New Yorker, Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman, has become the first woman to assume the presidency of the New York Board of Rabbis in the year 2012. Rabbi Goodman has long been a leader in the community, outspokenly fighting to protect women’s reproductive rights and health care, and advocating for marriage equality in New York State. For her advocacy in social justice, the New York Board of Rabbis awarded… Read More »First Woman President of the NY Board of Rabbi’s
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.
1/08/13 – published in www.thejewishweek.com Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, an Ashkenazi who led a Sephardic congregation and was also closely affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, died Saturday night at 90. He was a passionate advocate of traditional Torah values and strict interpretation of halacha. Rabbi Hecht was leader of Congregation Shaare Zion in Midwood, Brooklyn for over 50 years and rabbi emeritus of that congregation at the time of his death.… Read More »Rabbi Abraham Hecht, Chabad And Sephardic Leader, Dies At 90
Joey Weisenberg’s music workshops—blending a democratic approach with a range of traditions—aim to boost engagement
On a recent Saturday evening, as Shabbat began to fade, two dozen men and women, most in their 20s and early 30s, were slowly belting out a long niggun, a wordless melody, sitting in a close circle in the chapel of a Brooklyn synagogue. When their eyes weren’t closed in this meditative chant, they were watching Joey Weisenberg. He was leading a discussion on effective prayer leadership skills, but for the moment, Weisenberg wanted them simply to feel the mystical power of singing together. One melody, over and over and over. “Instead of changing melodies,” he said, “let it change our selves.”
The first mikvah ever in Park Slope finally opened after more than five years of construction.
The three-story William and Betty Katz Center for Jewish Life, on 15th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, was celebrated with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, drawing dozens of observant Jews and shutting down the street to traffic for several hours. The project has been controversial with neighbors since its inception.
A mikvah, which literally translates as “pool,” is a Jewish ritual bathhouse and an integral part of the religion, said Rabbi Shimon Hecht, leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob on Ninth Street. He also heads the Chabad of Brownstone Brooklyn, which built the mikvah.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said, adding that building a mikvah even takes precedence over building a house of worship.
The pristine, spa-like, facility is designed for observant Jews to partake in a ritual process of purification and cleansing, in a solitary and ultra private manner, by immersing themselves in specially constructed pools. The new mikvah has baths for men on the first floor and separate baths for women on the lower level. It’s available only by appointment.
“It’s a major component of the Jewish community,” he said. “You need a mikvah because Jewish purity is dependent on a mikvah. You cannot build a family without a mikvah. And if you don’t have a family then you cannot build a community.”
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 borough, which has more Jewish people than anywhere else in the country.
The holidays came late this year, so early that many Jews remained in their summer homes for the holidays. The holiday preparations include the [preparation] cooking of many traditional foods, which are eaten as symbols of the holidays. Holiday challah is formed into a round shape to represent the circle of life. So that we may have a sweet New Year, it is filled with sweet raisins, and you can smell the challah baking, along with the traditional honey cake, as you ride down the avenues. At the holiday table, the challah is dipped in honey, along with the apples, the fall fruit, with a benediction. Symbolic foods like dates, the head of a fish (or animal), pomegranate seeds, gourds, and Swiss chard are traditionally eaten in different varieties, whether in Ashkenazi or Sephardi families.
After years of watching synagogue members die or move away, the Sephardic Jewish Center of Canarsie made the difficult decision to downsize.
The 50-year-old Brooklyn synagogue had been a thriving center for the area’s Sephardim. But after accepting that it could no longer pull together enough money to cover expenses, let alone muster the 10 men necessary for daily prayer, the synagogue disposed of most of its belongings and began holding Shabbat services in a nearby Ashkenazi congregation.
But what to do with its prayerbooks? The center owned several hundred volumes in the Spanish-Portuguese liturgical style — some tattered, some like new and some belonging to older members that may have had significant worth.
“We donated some to a local shul, but we had to get rid of a lot of them and bury them,” said Rabbi Myron Rakowitz. “It was difficult because we didn’t just want to throw them out or claim them unusable. We want other people to use them, to give them purpose when we no longer can.”
What to do with old books is a growing problem for synagogues across the United States.
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 years of service as the Center’s esteemed and distinguished spiritual leader this coming Sunday, June 8.
“This event is the highlight of the Center’s social season,” said Toby Sanchez, co-president of EMJC. “It is a time to pay tribute to a leading rabbi, who is also chief chaplain of the New York City Police Department and who has contributed so much to our Center and city, enjoy each other’s company and, not coincidentally, it is a major fundraising event.”
Sanchez continued, “Rabbi Kass is a gifted orator whose uplifting, insightful and intellectually-stimulating sermons inspire us at Shabbat Services, the High Holidays and life cycles, as well as at community events.
Randy Grossman, co-president of the Center, pointed out, “Over the years, Rabbi Kass has exerted a powerful influence over the spiritual life of the synagogue and has devoted his entire professional life to ministering to the needs of others in the wider community, in the armed forces of our country and in the Police Department of our great city.”
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 made by EMJC’s two presidents, Randy Grossman and Toby Sanchez. He succeeds Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass, who was the spiritual leader of EMJC for 36 years, and now becomes Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Kass is also Chief Chaplain of the New York City Police Department, the longest-serving chaplain in the history of the department, 48 years, and the first to achieve the rank of assistant chief. The Center is located at 1625 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210.
Before joining EMJC, Rabbi Carl served as the part-time Rabbi of the Battery Park Synagogue, a 50 family unaffiliated synagogue in New York City from September 2010 until May, 2014. He created, counseled and collaborated with the synagogue’s 20’s and 30’s group, oversaw and supervised the Hebrew school and directed adult education programs.
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 the Jewish period of Bein HaMeitzarim (The Three Weeks) and gave participants the chance to get to know each other and explore a religious tradition that may have been unfamiliar to them. The event featured music and dancing by Jewish and Turkish performers.
The importance of brotherhood and learning about each other’s traditions was the evening’s theme.