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Saturday, January 27, 2007

NYT On BP "Minyan Factory"

NYT on Boro Park "minyan factory" Shomrei Shabbos:
At 10 o’clock on a recent Thursday night, the corner of 53rd Street and 13th Avenue in the heart of Borough Park was bustling with traffic. In this neighborhood, an ultra-Orthodox stronghold for the past decade, a sea of religious Jews clad in traditional black and white garb scurried in every direction for late-night prayer, shopping or something to eat. This corner of Brooklyn never sleeps, or so it seems.

The main attraction is Congregation Shomrei Shabbos, a 24-hour synagogue where a service begins every 15 minutes. What started more than three-quarters of a century ago as a tiny congregation has grown into a mainstay of this community: transit hub, soup kitchen, community center, bookstore and prayer hall all in one.

The late-night traffic generated by the synagogue has spilled onto the streets, so much so that over the past few years a neighborhood has literally grown up around it. Restaurants and stores are open long past midnight. Peddlers vie for street space in the wee hours. Religious music streams from a small boombox. Men stop their cars in the middle of darkened streets to announce the birth of a child.

...Thanks to all this activity, the once-inconspicuous synagogue is now a trigger for local nightlife.

“Real estate surrounding the synagogue is in high demand,” said Mendy Handler, owner of Cellular 4 Less, one of several local businesses that stay open past midnight to attract late-night synagogue-goers. His busiest hours are from 6 p.m. to midnight. “People can drop off their phones to be fixed while they are praying next door,” said Sol Oberlander, the store’s manager.

Other businesses have followed suit. Copy Corner stays open until midnight, as does Gal Paz, a music store. Sub Express, a kosher fast-food restaurant whose menu includes what is described as a unique “brisket egg roll,” keeps its doors open until 1 a.m.

Another popular outpost is Deli 52, which on Thursday nights serves two variations of cholent, a traditional Sabbath stew of beans, meat and barley, until 4 a.m. The late-night cholent attracts crowds of men, who often stay and schmooze until the morning hours, a somewhat controversial activity among the ultra-Orthodox, who pride themselves on not wasting time with idle chat.
Thursday night chulent makes the big time. Check it out.

42 Comments:

Blogger Ayelet said...

That's a riot!

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its great, people, men in particular need a place to hang out, chill and release excess energy.

1:29 AM  
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2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These minyan factories are common in BP. There's another one at the corner of New Utrecht and 54th. I davened Maariv there a few weeks ago. I'm not a black hatter so I was treated like a leper, even though I made it clear, in Yiddish, that I'm a chiyuv and in availos for my mother A"H. Moral-if you ain't one of them, you're lower than dirt.

3:56 AM  
Anonymous mj said...

sorry about your experiance but chassidim are of the biggest ba'alei chessed and when a person is in need they usually do anything to help, most of the chessed orginizations from bikur cholima nd others were all started and are run by chassidim ur incident is an aberation. and no i m not chassidish please do not speak badly about any jew
ps the shul u went to was probably shomer shabbas it is right of of new utrecht

4:44 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Great article. The reporter did a good job capturing what actually is, as opposed to making Orthodox Jews seem like a group of anachronistic kooks.

10:15 AM  
Blogger keithninety said...

I have no doubt that these Chasidim do a lot of good - as long as you're one of them. If you don't look like them, you're dirt. I don't like to speak badly of other Jews but its true. There's a lot of Sinas Chinam under the chassideshe l'vush. I'm 42 years old and have been to BP hundreds of times. I went to Mirrer Yeshiva for HS and BM. I speak fluent Yiddish. My mother was an Auschwitz survivor. S'helft gurnisht - you don't wear black, you ain't worth jack.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait till this happens here in the Five Towns!!

2:24 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

Can women pray there? They can't at Landau's in Flatbush -- no Mechitzah.

Personally, I've been nothing but welcomed in Chasidic minyanim -- in Manhattan, Riverdale, Flatbush, Montreal, and New Square -- despite the fact that I never wear a jacket and don't even own a black hat. Some local MO minyanim aren't as friendly.

And I'd love to have a minyan factory near me -- the last maariv in my nbhd is at 9:30pm.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

keithninety:

i have my own sterotypes/prejudices re. bp, but i can't complain about chassidic shuls.

my mother-in-law lives in bp. when i go there for shabbat i often daven in linden heights (10th ave), which is basically as modern as you can get in bp. i've never been given any kibud, not even just pesichah. no one has ever said hello to me.

on the other hand, the few occasions that i've davened in chassidic shtieblch, they've always been friendly to me. most interesting is one particualr small basement bp shtiebel. for whatever reason they did not have a baal kore the shabbat i davened there. i told the rav that i can lein and he asked me if i would be willing to do it. this despite the fact that i was wearing a srugi, dockers and sweater (no tie, jacket, hat). i even warned him that i lein with havarah sefaradit and he was fine ("it's still the same torah," he responded). you could say that this was due to neccesity, but almost every time i've been back to that shtiebel since then they ask me to lein.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here we go with these complexed people.

1:10 AM  
Blogger keithninety said...

Ari:

I'm pleased to hear about your good experiences in BP. Mine have not been as pleasant. I've been ignored, skipped over in line and basically been treated with contempt numerous times in BP. In fact, I've been treated better in Williamsburg than BP.

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one thing I dont understand is that you can also get a scahrit minyan at 12:00pm???

8:09 AM  
Blogger WoodmereGuy said...

I agree with 2:24-- we definitely need one here! We had the White Shul for shacharis but they have made it clear that they don't want a minyan factory reputation? What's wrong with being a minyan factory? I think it's a great community service.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minyan factory is okay if people join the shul. The White Shul is dying because people use it only as a minyan factory.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We'd like to hear about the kid who "fell off' a balcony in MB

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linden Heights is avery unique shul.It is the only shul that has a rabbi who is an ex-con.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

never heard of linden heights... as far as i know the most "modern" shul in BP is Young Israel Beth El, on 15th avenue and 48th or so, near Bobov.

10:33 PM  
Blogger WoodmereGuy said...

I agree that people should join the White Shul. But at the same time, it's somewhat spiteful for them to put a stop to the "minyan factory" when it's serving a wonderful community function.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The White Shul had tremendous wear and tear on their building and high electrical usage, while the people attending never even gave tzedakah to the shul. Why should the members of the White Shul support a community that disparages them while abusing their resources?

3:33 PM  
Anonymous CB Spira said...

Charlie Hall 5:54 said:
"Can women pray there? They can't at Landau's in Flatbush -- no Mechitzah."

There is an upstairs section for ladies at Shomrei Shabbos. During the week, however, it's used as an extra mens section, with men learning or reciting tehillim there. The stairway from the outside is unlit (good thing I carry around a flashlight with me) and the door is sometimes locked, but I have davened mincha there on more than one occasion.

Does Landaus never have a ladies section? Or is it just during the "off times" that the ladies section is unavailable?

5:21 PM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

steg:

"never heard of linden heights... as far as i know the most "modern" shul in BP is Young Israel Beth El, on 15th avenue and 48th or so, near Bobov."

it is on 9th and 45th. it is probably as "modern" as beth el is these days. it is pretty much a carpathian operation and would not ever recommend davening there on shabbat.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Landau's ladies section is upstairs and can be accessed from either entrance. During the week it is sometimes used for Maariv but on Shabbos it's a regular ladies section with a large opening to the main shul.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

ari:

for modernity, check out beth el's downstairs minyan (main entrance around the right side of the building), starts 8am on Shabbos.

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ITS NOT ONLY FOR PRAYERS
ITS A PLACE WHERE PP CAN EAT DRINK
AND BE COMFORTABLE ALL DAY LONG ,INCLUDING SHABATH MEALS
YOU CAN SEE ALL TIME PP STOP TO DROP TRAYS OF CAKES BY THE SHUL
MEE CEAMCHA ISRAEL
I LOVE BORO PARK

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