Brooklyn synagogues are important centers for Jewish communities. For generations, synagogues in Europe and the Middle East were primarily for adult male prayer and study. In the US, they began to expand their roles to include other spiritual, cultural and educational activities for the whole family. The synagogue became a place to congregate, to celebrate life cycle events and social occasions. Many synagogues began to build social halls where a… Read More »Synagogues and Jewish Centers
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
Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 5:17 pm | Updated: 5:23 pm, Wed May 8, 2013. on Home Reporter News By Theodore W. General Brooklyn’s official historian Ronald Schweiger was just elected as the 48th president of the Society of Old Brooklynites, which dates back to when Brooklyn was an independent city and the third largest in the nation. Schweiger, who is also the president of the Brooklyn College Alumni Association, joins a long list of… Read More »Ron Schweiger, new president of the Society of Old Brooklynites
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.”
Volunteers Ashlee Davis, Jennifer Smith and Joey Canoro (left to right) prepare food packages for delivery. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
The Purim holiday which took place this past weekend was a lot more festive for hundreds of people in Brooklyn, thanks to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, which distributed food packages to families in Flatbush, Midwood, Marine Park and Borough Park as part of its Kosher Food Network.
Volunteers from the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush and the Jewish Community Council of Far Rockaway delivered 500 two-person meals to homes on Friday, March 14, in time for the Jewish festival.
The food giveaway allowed residents to partake in holiday festivities despite the often prohibitive costs of kosher food, organizers said. The meal included traditional staples such as challah, stuffed cabbage, vegetable soup, chicken, and potato kugel.
“Purim is a time for celebration and thanks to a generous Met Council supporter, 1,000 food insecure New Yorkers will be able to join the Jewish community in marking the occasion with joy and dignity,” Metropolitan Council CEO and Executive Director David M. Frankel said prior to the food distribution.
Rabbi Josh Minkin (in foreground) holds the microphone, while colleague Malka Shagaraeva wears the crown. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services
The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services on March 17 treated the Brighton Beach community, which was seriously affected during Hurricane Sandy, to a festive Purim party at Tatiana restaurant on Brighton Beach Avenue as part of the UJA-Federation’s Post-Sandy Community Outreach Program. The program provides emotional and spiritual help to members of the Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Staten Island who have been seriously affected by the hurricane. The free program, which is offered in both English and Russian, is unusual because it combines pastoral with psychological counseling. Read More »For Sandy victims in Brighton Beach, Purim story has a double meaning
Keshet, a successful and well-known educational community afterschool program for Israelis in Brooklyn, is expanding with the support of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) and will be renamed IAC-Keshet Programs.
IAC-Keshet is an afterschool Hebrew dual language program for both Hebrew- and non-Hebrew-speaking children, ages 3 and up. In addition to Hebrew-language education, IAC-Keshet also explores different aspects of Jewish and Israeli identity, helping students make a strong connection to Israel. The Hebrew word Keshet means “rainbow.”
With the change, IAC-Keshet Programs will be moving from Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform congregation in Park Slope, to Kings Bay Y at Windsor Terrace, a JCC with multiple locations in Brooklyn. The program is expanding in order to reach out to the broader Israeli and Jewish communities in Brooklyn and beyond.
This new development reflects a growing trend in which Israeli-American programs are expanding, while engaging the broader Jewish community under the IAC’s leadership. Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh, the newly appointed IAC New York regional director and the founder of Keshet, told the Brooklyn
Eagle during a presentation at the Kings Bay Y that she and a group of Israeli parents started gathering several years ago to create a space for sharing cultural identity.
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 (IAC), will bring together Israeli and American Jews in Brooklyn Heights, fusing their distinct cultures and customs to create a shared community around the Shabbat table.
This new family program, which will run every few weeks at Congregation Mount Sinai, will combine traditional Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) prayers and Israeli shira betzibur (singalong) as well as a traditional Shabbat dinner with Israeli foods, adding authentic Israeli flavor to the evening. The first event will take place on Friday, evening Sept. 12. Tickets are necessary.
IAC-Shishi Israeli seeks to use music to convene the community and enable participants to create a family-inspired Shabbat experience that is both Jewish and unique, combining time-honored traditions with modern rituals. Accomplished musicians, who will make the perfect accompaniment for this special dinner, include Arlene Gould, Daniel Ori, Hadar Noiberg, Dan Aran and Dan Nadel.
Rabbi Seth Wax of Congregation Mount Sinai said in a trailer video introducing the event, “Congregation Mt. Sinai welcomes people of lots of different backgrounds, and wants people to feel like they have a home.” He added, “Share food, music, culture; and build relationships.”
By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor – Brooklyn Daily Eagle 10/7 Jews around Brooklyn find innovative, fun ways of celebrating the joyful festivals. This year, Brooklyn’s famous amusement park at Coney Island will be transformed into a Sukkot Spectacle. Sukkot is the festival of booths. Taking place in autumn, Sukkot celebrates trust in God and the gathering of community. Luna Park in Coney Island is preparing to host a Sukkot Spectacle… Read More »Luna Park Set to Host Large Sukkot Spectacle
New Brooklyn Museum committed to revealing the unknown stories of heroism and faith that withstood the horrors of the Holocaust.
The joy of Adar abruptly turned to terror on Shabbat morning, 8 Adar, 5703 (February 13, 1943), when German officers stormed the synagogue and threatened to wipe out the entire community.
The Jewish community of Djerba, a sunny island off the Tunisian coast, had flourished for over two millennia, but during the Second World War, Nazi Germany occupied the island, putting the lives of its Jewish population in immediate and grave danger.
The officers demanded from the community an exorbitant bribe of 50 kilograms (110 lbs.) of gold in exchange for the right to live. They warned that if the gold was not handed over within three hours, the community members would all be killed. Rabbi Khalfon Moshe Hakohen, the revered rabbi, immediately instructed the people to bring their gold in order to save the community. The rabbi’s illustrious disciple, Rav Rachamim Hai Havitah Hakohen, broke the wall in his house to take his life’s savings which had been hidden inside the wall. Many others did the same, bringing all the money and jewelry they owned. Still, it was not enough to pay the extortionate bribe.
Seeing there was still a shortfall, Rav Khalfon rode by car – although it was still Shabbat – to the Hara Seghira community in the small Jewish Quarter to collect the outstanding amount. Even the golden bells decorating the Torah scrolls were removed in a desperate attempt to save the Jews’ lives. The Germans collected 42 kilograms of gold, and agreed to give the Jews until Sunday to come up with the balance. On Sunday, the Jews were prepared to deliver an additional eight kilograms, until the joyous news arrived – Allied forces had invaded Tunisia, driving the Nazis out of the country.
The Jews still had the eight kilograms, and they were now faced with the question of how it should be returned. Was it to be distributed proportionately among the community, or should the Hara Seghira receive its portion back in full? This question was addressed by Rav Rahamim Hai Havitah Hakohen in his work Simhat Kohen, where he discusses the halachah in great detail (he ruled that it should be distributed proportionally).
This remarkable story, and the concern for strict compliance with halachic minutiae even under the most trying circumstances, is just one example of how Jews continued to show unwavering loyalty to the Torah during the dark days of the Holocaust.
This heroic fealty to faith during World War II is now being memorialized by a new initiative – the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center (KFHEC), which is set to open in Boro Park next year.