1/08/13 published in thejewishweek.com
In ‘Little Poland,’ gentrification and an inclusive Orthodox rabbi with a garden are reviving Jewish life.
Until recently, Yoni Kretzmer, a disillusioned former Orthodox Jew spent most Friday evenings performing on his sax, while Jesse Beller, who describes himself as unaffiliated, would spend Friday nights at a friend’s house or a bar.
But last Friday night, the two were at Congregation Ahavas Israel, the only Orthodox synagogue — indeed, the only Jewish congregation of any type — in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.
Kretzmer, who led the Kabbalat Shabbat service, chanting the liturgy like a veteran chazzan, and Beller are among a growing number of young Jews, most of whom identify as secular, who have moved to Greenpoint in the last decade and are active at Ahavas Israel.