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Monday, January 01, 2007

Shaliach Vs. Shaliach

From Ny Mag:
Just in time for the Atlantic Yards project to break ground, a turf war has erupted between two Lubavitch rabbis claiming dibs on the rapidly gentrifying brownstone neighborhoods that surround it. In one corner is Rabbi Ari Kirschenbaum, who showed up in Prospect Heights three years ago to revive a decrepit Orthodox synagogue in the neighborhood, and recently opened what he has dubbed the Brooklyn Jewish Community Center in a donated space over a former laundromat. His rival is Rabbi Tali Frankel, who is backed by his wife’s powerful uncle, Rabbi Shimon Hecht of Park Slope. After arriving eighteen months ago, he began holding events advertised as being sponsored by “Chabad of Prospect Heights”—though Kirschenbaum is the neighborhood’s sole officially recognized shaliach, or emissary, of the Hasidic sect, which sends married couples all over the world to spread the faith to less-observant Jews. Lubavitchers usually do not invade each other’s area, but now both Kirschenbaum and Frankel are hosting Torah study sessions, holiday parties in bars, and low-key services in people’s homes trying to connect the nabe’s mostly young Jewish population with traditional texts and observance. Frankel seems to be trying to appeal to singles especially, with event listings in Hecht’s Brownstone Jewish Review touting “stories, food and booze!”

Hecht has controlled the Park Slope fiefdom for twenty years, and has helped seed Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Cobble Hill, and Williamsburg with colleagues. Tensions flared over Hanukkah, when Hecht commandeered Kirschenbaum’s nine-foot-tall menorah in the Atlantic Terminal Mall. Kirschenbaum dealt with the mall and set up the menorah, holding a party (paid for by Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner) on the Sunday of Hanukkah that attracted a few hundred people. But Hecht’s group sponsored festivities at Kirschenbaum’s menorah on Saturday. (Hecht declined to comment on Prospect Heights.)

The Lubavitch powers that be have had enough. Rabbi Kasriel Kastel, who supervises the New York–area Lubavitch emissaries, filed a lawsuit against Hecht in rabbinical court alleging that he has overstepped his boundaries by bringing his nephew into an area where another Lubavitch rabbi was already holding officially sanctioned activities. Kastel says the problem is that there aren’t enough up-and-coming areas to go around. “There are maybe 100 or 200 guys who trained their whole lives, and are looking for an opportunity to go. Smaller communities which would never be considered before are getting people,” and conflicts between rabbis are increasing, he says. “It comes with growth and gentrification.”
Wow, this story has all the intrigue - the commandeering of 9-foot-tall menorahs, dueling holiday parties, even "stories, food and booze!".

37 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

oy!

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lubavitch shluchim are a franchise operation-as best territories are taken-there is a fight for other territories. Since each one has to raise their own money plus pay a tribute to 770 and many HABADNICKS are not qualified to do anything else as profitable-what should one expect?

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Itzhak Schier said...

LOL - no shaliach pays one dime to "770" - this is an oft heard misconception. At one time, "770" provided seed money to new shluchim - now I am not sure if that is still the case.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It must be rough to be a newbie on the circuit. Maybe they should all change cities every few years.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, a new subject for loshon horah. Is there something nice we can say about the lubavitch community? Like they are the largest kiruv organization around? And they do a lot of good?

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I used to live in Park Slope and we saw this coming two years ago. This is what happens when you decide your Rebbe is Moshiach and won't appoint another one: Anarchy and bedlam!

3:54 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

The Hechts have spent 20 years building up Orthodoxy in Park Slope. And as non-meshichists. Now a young, dynamic guy is attracting people on the fringes of their catchment area, and is using the Chabad Establishment, which is known to have problems with the Hecht family, to put the screws to him. Is it any wonder he feels threatened? See here.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually live in prospect heights and for everyones information find Rabbi Hecht his family and his congregation very pleasant and warmS a lot more enjoyable than the Shul on St. Johns were the sly "Rabbi Ari" is quietly trying to overthrow the existing and kind Rabbi Shwartz, and make the shul his Chabad base.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous yossel said...

I believe the Shul that Kirschenbaum started reviving is not even in Prospect Heights it is on St. Johns and Franklin which is Crown Heights.
so why doesn't he just stick to the area he already started in crown hieghts and leave Prospect Heights to its rightful Shliach Rabbi Hecht.

12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yossel- that is a very interesting point you mention.
I wonder why? probably because he cant get enough money in his own area so he has to go to someone else's people to fund raise. That is where all fights lead back to, money.
My guess is he is trying to take as many people away from Rabbi Hecht as possible to support his actions in crown Heights.
Is this right or wrong?
Very very wrong on Rabbi Kirschenbaums part, he should put himself higher than that, he should work hard and get the local people to support him.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this Hecht stroking is absurd.

The Hechts were in Park Slope for 18 years before Kirschenbaum showed up in Prospect Heights. In those 18 years, the Hechts never had a single event in Prospect Heights, or did anything at all there. Their only connection was that a few people from the edge of Prospect Heights (around Grand Army Plaza) would walk 20+ blocks to come to the shul where Hecht is the Rabbi (which he also commandeered, putting his wife on the board and finagling to get a lifetime contract).

Once Rabbi Kirschenbaum showed up and announced himself as Chabad of Prospect Heights, and started having some successful events and providing an alternative venue for the observant Jews in Prospect Heights, Hecht suddenly re-did his letterhead, morphing from "Chabad of Park Slope" to "Chabad of Park Slope and Prospect Heights." I can state from personal knowledge as a member of Hecht's shul that before Kirschenbaum there was no paper, newsletter, flier, sign, letterhead, or anything that used the word "Prospect Heights."

Hecht then started a campaign that was downright disgusting. Whatever Kirschenbaum did, Hecht undermined it.

Then Hecht has his twin brother's daughter and son in law move in, and start playing "just a nice guy" (i.e. don't call me a shaliach) holding parties in his house for various occasions--almost always competing with Kirschenbaum's events. Now the nephew is out of the closet and is calling himself a "shaliach."

Hecht is apparently upset that the Prospect Heights turf wasn't held for his son Mendy who is a few years away from being eligible to be a shaliach himself. This is absurd. There are yidden there NOW. Kirschnbaum and Hecht should be on the same team, marching together in Hashem's army, as it were. Hecht can sing about Mashiach Now all he wants, but undermining a sweet, earnest guy who just wants to spread yiddishkeit in what had been a forgotten wasteland is certainly not going to bring Mashiach.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

Why post as anonymous, write your name and say who you are, as a member of Hechts shul people should not only what you think but they should know who you are.
If you are a man you would write your name, but you are probably just saying what you heard or read somewhere else, and don't really live in the community.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Rachel S. said...

The answer to all problems lyes in your own words "once kirschenbaum showed up and announced himself as chabad of prospect heights".
Since when do people show up and announce themselves without permission of someone who has been "seeding other local areas with shluchim", someone who has made the entire Brownstone Brooklyn what it is today in terms Judaism (see thanbook.blogspot.com).
So it is very easy to criticize and knock other people (especially who you don't really know), but i would suggest you try to look at it from the other point of view. good luck

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody who knows Kirschenbaum, would tell you outright that he would never hang his laundry in the press. he is wise beyond his years, non confrontational and caring. In fact he has taken the highroad for the past 3 years as hecht has time and again publicly disrespected kirschenbaum's official position as the prospect heights shliach by taking out ads in public papers as well as his own fictional publication and writing letters in public, placing them on public forum in which he used to try and misguide local residents. kirschnbaum has never dignified anything negative or responded to the many slurs and insults hurled at him. And for that he is to be lauded. What he has accomplished in his short time is simply historic.

For the record, for those of you who simply make comments based on a three piece paragraph in a ny magazine, it would be wise to consider the following.. The author Debra N. Cohen is a local brooklyn resident who has had her issues with rabbi hecht in the past and through the power of the pen used her talent primarily at poking at orthodoxy and lubavitch in particular, both in her capacity as editor of the jewish week of ny and other media outlets. Simply put, she lives, hears, sees and understands all that transpires in a neighborhood no larger some of the starbucks in ny city. You don't have to be a genius to see the transparency in hects actions as they relate to Kirschenbaum and the prospect heights community. Interesting though, as a fort greene resident myself and part time attendee to kol Israel synagogue through the years, I can honestly say that for the 20 years he has resided in park slope he hasn't once done anything on behalf of our beloved house of worship and its jewish community, he wouldn't know if Charlton was a street name or an animated fictional children's character. Its obvious to all. What does Kirschenbaum stand to gain by letting the locals know that there is a rift by putting into the public domain? Wouldn't that make him look bad too? Where's

As far as hecht's relationship with the other local Chabad rabbi's in the area. clearly stated. He does not get along with anybody, rabbi pinson no longer gives a class at his temple and hasn't for some time now, and has opened his own synagogue. R. cheikoff in dumbo is no longer under his nephew's (raskin's) jurisdiction now that the official Chabad board has removed him from his authority. So much for them all getting along. What's interesting is, is that hecht and his own nephew cant get along themselvesunless of course their united in destroying someone else. And indeed, hecht and his cronies (namely family members) should indeed feel threatened, for as Kirschenbaum, pinson and cheikoff continue to gain steam and popularity throughout brownstone brooklyn hecht is still stuck in the batters looking at a called strike three. To be sure pinson and Kirschenbaum give wonderful lectures and are warm human beings, something none has ever accused hecht of being.

If only the man focused on cultivating his own area of park slope, large enough to contain 2-3 additional lubavitch rabbi's as well as many more jewish organizations, his life and legacy would be better off, but alas he is too worried about others people success. Indeed a shame. Poor frankel who works hard to make a living as a Judaica store cashier who innocently moved into an apartment owned by a hecht suporter only to be exploited by his own uncle for his personal agenda. Manipulation in the highest degree. The poor guy probably does not know what hit him.

and mr. atlas, while i most of the time i find myself disagreeing with you, i must say you are right on the money on this one.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elliot- I just can't help wondering where you get all your information from... and why you feel the need to post more slander against a Rabbi you apparently don't know...(that's Hecht and Frankel mainly). Rabbi Hecht has been accused of much greater things than just good lectures....
And following your whole baseball metaphor, Hecht is more in the position of the umpire behind the batter with the ability to CALL the strike three, than any other position...
Oh, and please don't be so righteous as to feel "so bad" for a "poor guy" named Tali, who "didn't know what hit him..." Tali knows exactly what hit him. He is an amazing guy with a heart as large as cosmic space, and he is well-loved and admired by EVERY SINGLE person (yes, even Kirshenbaum's supporters...). And he has accomplished a tremendous amount in the short while that he has been here.
Keep in mind that these are MY Rabbi's that you are dissing- and I don't appreciate it one bit.
Get your facts straight and then come back and rewrite it.

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Brad said...

Hey- annonymous that posted all about the Hechts being absurd and Kirshenbaum being an earnest guy... are you the same "ernest" from the other blog?

1:01 AM  
Anonymous L. K. said...

Whoever this last anonymous is, is obviusly a total moron.
Before i get started, you copy and pasted the same exact letter on 2 different blogs one with a name and one without why?
probably b/c you are embarrassed to show to everyone that you are a total farce.
Then you forget to erase the last line which has nothing to do with this site, and in the letter itself, you try to poke fun at someone else while really you are poking fun at yourself, the street name in not "charlton" it is actually "carlton", a resident of fort greene should know that. (hhmm)
You obviously have some personal issues with Rabbi Hecht that bother you, so instead of "hanging your dirty laundry out to dry", why don't you do, like your great teacher and lecturer Kirschenbaum would do and be "wise beyond your years" and keep it to yourself. and if you so choose and are going to act your age and hang it out in public, get your facts straight, b/c most of them are rubbish and delusional,
You make me think you have another agenda here, other than stating the facts.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous L. K. said...

My comment was for the second to last anonymous. but the first line does apply to the last one as well, even though you wrote a couple of true points, you still must post your name. and don't lower yourself to the level of an ignorant/ delusional farce.

1:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to give maybe a bit of background in general on the Hecht’s and how they took the legacy of J.J Heact which is not clean at all as the world makes him:

The Heact family is currently involved in many good things like:

Din Torah one: Heact/Kaplan in Miami conflict with Rabbi Lifshets there.

Din Torah two: Heact and the Chabad yeshiva in Monsey.

Din Torah three: Heact and LYO.

But to end off on a good note did i learn anything from theis people? The answer is yes from Shea Heact and I’ll explain:

1. You red yarmulke or “kipa” it’s just so cool! When you’re walking with your kids together it’s unbelievable! A hall bunch of red kippas!

2. Your down hat when both sides of your brim are down its unbelievable! (Did you realize yourself how cool it is?)

3. The amount of money you maid after Ari Halberstam was killed because you said kids in his class needed doctors! You’re really talented!

Machon Chana: they where unable to keep the school going because a lack of funds then the closed it down do ms. L knowing how much Agmas Nefhes the Rebbe would have from it single handedly kept the school going the Hecht’s then succeeded to implement in peoples heads “that she stole the Rebbe”s Mosed”.

Hadar torah: they take credit for that to! While for the last 10 years in their summer program called IV leg that has horrible attendants that something which fell apart also I believe they had 7 students there last summer! Thank g-d mayanot opened and gets most students for the summer.

Aside for that they don’t give a penny to Hadar torah aside for the space which they make Silberstein pay theme for! There is a yid yakov Silberstein which funds the yeshiva single handedly! (but when the Hadar torah journal comes out the heact”s make sure that there is a big picture of J.J Heact there)

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the miami din torah has to do with a niece of his - who is married to kaplan.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi Hecht was just looking to grab territory. Maybe by grqabbing that old derelict shul away from Rabbi Schwartz and Kirshenbaum he could claim eminent domain

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Beth P(well..you know the rest!) said...

I would like to reply to anonymous who by the way should seriously consider claiming authorship of his posts...by the way,Debra Nussbaum Cohen is NOT the Editor of The Jewish Week, Gary Rosenblatt is, At least check the basics! Why is it I get 10 e mails a week from Rabbi Kirshenbaum about activities at his shul, when I have never requested to be on an email list. As a member of Bnai Jacob I suspect someone gave someone our email address...THIS by the way is called SPAM. I also wasn't aware that advertising BOOZE was considered the preferred way to attract young Orthodox Jewish residents in the Prospect Heights area...Guess I'm not hip enough. #3) Why is it every year Rabbi Kirshenbaum holds an event (again this year's Purim event), he calls BNAI JACOB members to come to his Chabad events, instead of simply holding his own events and inviting all to attend. (Like DUH!)This happened again this year for the Southpaw event...which by the way could have simply attracted people on its own wonderful merits.
Oh and the "cool" factor.Warm and fuzzy and "cool"...Sounds like vintage Garcia...pathetic... Can someone P L E A S E (!) tell me what events are available for WOMEN in Rabbi Ari Kirshenbaum's shul Friday nights? Does young and hip preclude being a Jewish Woman or am I just blind. Sick of the necessity of "cool" in the "new" orthodoxy, sick of music used as the weapon of choice in these ugly internecine rabbinical turf wars, and sick of innuendo replacing dialogue...

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