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.Thursday night chulent makes the big time. Check it out.
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.