The Woodbourne Shul
Has It All
By Dov Levy
If you have not yet visited this summer, now’s the time.
With major renovations completed, the Woodbourne Shul, located at 457 Route 52, is back in full swing and welcoming record crowds to enjoy davening with a unique brand of hospitality under the aegis of its beloved leader, Grand Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, shlita, the Nikolsburg Rebbe. Its morning kollel program kicks off each day with intense Torah study.
Much has happened here over the past winter, yet the approach remains the same as in previous years. After showing signs of severe strain from the unprecedented flow of crowds over recent summers, the Nikolsburg Rebbe undertook a major renovation of the historic, 90+ year-old building. Construction was still ongoing as the summer season began and the first weeks found tefillos being held outside. Rabbi Jungreis visited numerous times during the winter to oversee the efforts and was on hand to help drag tables and benches into place as things began to arrive.
Now he is here every morning, proudly greeting the 21 members of his morning study program, “Kollel Mesirus Nefesh.” This group spends one hour devoted to Torah every morning from 8:00-9:00 a.m., Monday through Friday. Many come from far away and wake up as early as 6:00 a.m.–some catching the milk truck or early bread delivery–to make it to the shul on time. Last Friday the Rebbe proudly wrote out the first batch of 21 checks in the amount of $102 (it started at $100, but the Rebbe follows a policy of going up in holiness) for distribution to his beloved kollel students.
And that is just the beginning of a grueling schedule, overseeing the function of the shul and the constant flow of minyanim throughout the day as the prayers metamorphose from Shacharis to Minchah and from Minchah to Ma’ariv, ending long after midnight. In response to requests to open the shul earlier, the first weekday Shacharis has recently been moved up from 8:00 a.m. to 7:20 a.m.
At any given time, the Rebbe can be found directing chiyuvim to the amud of the next available minyan and making sure to send off his beloved mispallelim with some cookies. The weekend evening cholent available to all has grown from 8 large crock-pots to 10 and now 11! And as per popular request, the Rebbe now serves cholent on Sunday evening as well.
As in previous years, the shul has become a central gathering place for finding a minyan and catching up with the latest. Yidden from all walks of life and every stripe mix freely here and all barriers are left behind. The same minyan can include men in beaver hats and knitted yarmulkes, Sephardim and Ashkenazim alike. All come here to share a smile, a good word and a pleasant atmosphere of universal camaraderie that knows no borders.
A number of prominent rabbanim have graced the shul with their presence. Notable among them is Rav Dovid Goldwasser, who delivered a shiur, as well as the Mezhibozher Rav, HaRav Bick, who commented that he felt compelled to visit despite his frailty in order to strengthen the Rebbe and those who gather here. As in the past, Rav Moshe Meir Weiss delivers a brief but fiery shiur daily, in addition to his popular keynote shiur each Thursday evening. The shul also hosts several daf yomi shiurim daily.
For those who are interested in the physical comforts the Woodbourne Shul offers, the Rebbe is proud to have added another strip air conditioner downstairs, raising the total to three. Plus, four such units have been installed upstairs where people previously complained that the heat made it too unpleasant to daven or learn. New carpeting for the entire shul is scheduled to arrive later this week.
But what is most significant is not what has changed, but what remains the same: the kiddush Hashem of so many Yidden davening together in complete achdus, the incredible hospitality of the Rebbe, shlita, as he greets everyone who enters the front door with his trademark smile and warmth, and the love shared through the constant refreshments and shower of berachos he presses on every weary traveler who stops in.
Take the time to stop by. You’ll be glad you did.
Those who wish to help out with the staggering expenses of the renovations and general upkeep are invited to visit www.thewoodbourneshul.com. v
Soroka Medical Center: Israel’s ‘Iron Dome
As Operation Protective Edge proceeds, Soroka Medical Center plays a critical role for Israel: treating wounded IDF soldiers as well as civilians wounded by missile strikes and those suffering psychological trauma. Located in Be’er Sheva and the sole major medical center for the entire south of Israel, Soroka responded to the situation by taking steps to prepare for any eventuality, and to ensure the safety of its patients, especially those in units not yet “protected” against missile attack.
IDF helicopters have been landing around-the-clock at Soroka, transporting the most seriously injured soldiers. Col. Raslan Alian, the Golani brigade commander who was seriously injured in fighting Saturday night, is recovering from his injuries at Soroka; despite his serious injuries, he is visiting members of his brigade who are also there. It was here that the first Israeli civilian killed in the latest round of fighting was brought after he was fatally wounded in a mortar attack at the Erez crossing while delivering food to soldiers. It was here, as well, that two Bedouin sisters were brought after they were hit by shrapnel while playing outside and where a seriously injured Bedouin baby was brought for treatment a few days ago following a rocket attack that killed her father. Many government ministers and MKs have been visiting Soroka to offer encouragement to the hospital staff, visit the wounded, and see firsthand the remarkable work being done.
Dr. Ehud Davidson, director of Soroka Medical Center, stated, “In light of the escalation in the security situation in the south we began deployment. On July 7, we took the decision to move the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to sheltered quarters, moving 57 babies, families, and staff, including 23 preemies, five of whom are on respirators.” The hospital is operating in concert with the Home Front Command and the Supreme Hospitalization Authority. All personnel in critical positions (surgeons, trauma, and emergency room specialists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others) are on call and ready to be at the hospital within a very short time, day or night. Unfortified departments have been transferred to protected areas and additional operating rooms were opened there. The blood bank supplies have been augmented, as have medical equipment and medication inventories.
“The Soroka neonatal department is the busiest and one of the leading neonatal departments in Israel. Its building is not protected against rocket attack; given our great concern for the safety of the tiniest and most vulnerable of the patients for whom we care, we have decided that we must now move them to a protected area within the hospital.” The minister of health, MK Mrs. Yael German, visited Soroka Medical Center to see firsthand the preparedness of the hospital in light of the escalation in the security situation in the area. She visited the temporary neonatal ward set up last night to accommodate dozens of newborns and preemies, some in critical condition. MK German said: “The Soroka neonatal ward staff carried out an unimaginable feat, swiftly moving the department and its tiny patients. Very few countries in the world need ever cope with such a reality. The Soroka staff certainly deserves a badge of merit for their speedy, intense, but extremely careful work.”
The Soroka NICU staff has gained experience in this type of emergency evacuation during Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and additional escalations of the security situation during recent years. Just last month, Dr. Agneta Golan, the director of the Soroka NICU, visited New York City for the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center Gala, which was dedicated to raising the funds necessary to build a new, protected building. While in New York Citty, she visited the New York University Medical Center NICU, in solidarity with her American colleagues who had to evacuate the NYU NICU during Hurricane Sandy. Since 2008, Soroka has had to relocate its unit five times for safety. This heart-wrenching and dramatic operation is undertaken in consultation with the IDF Home Front Command, and only when the risk of staying in place exceeds the risk of the relocation.
One of Israel’s largest, and its busiest, hospital, Soroka is the sole major medical center for the entire Negev, which comprises 60% of Israel’s land. An intensely multicultural hospital, it serves as an example and symbol of peaceful coexistence.
Centers of excellence within the hospital include trauma care, cancer care, genetics, clinical research, pediatrics, and psychiatric care. The hospital is responsible for the health and emergency care of a million people, including 400,000 children and many IDF soldiers, since it serves as the only medical center on the southern front. Soroka must now grow by 30%, given anticipated rapid population growth, the IDF moving more bases and operations to the Negev, and Be’er Sheva’s evolving transformation into a high-tech center.
Now Soroka stands prepared and ready to fulfill its mission of “Defending Israel’s Health.” Additional information is available at www.soroka.org, or by calling 914-725-9070. Donations designated to help provide emergency services can be sent to American Friends of Soroka Medical Center, P.O. Box 184-H, Scarsdale, NY 10583. v
Painting The Town
(Or The Room) Purple
Nefesh is a different, innovative, and wonderful high school for girls in Brooklyn. Girls at Nefesh come from similar homes and backgrounds to most of those in Bais Yaakov schools throughout the New York area. They are looking for something different and they find it at Nefesh.
Like most of their counterpart girls’ high schools, Nefesh has uniforms. But at Nefesh, the uniform sweater comes in a variety of styles and colors–just like the girls. “K’sheim she’partzufayhem shonos, kein de’osayhem shonos.” Perhaps Chazal are teaching us that Hashem created every person to look different, to remind us that we are all different. Every person is a unique blend of her individual talents, interests, challenges, character traits, dreams, thoughts, experiences, and so much more, which Hashem bestowed upon us. Nefesh appreciates each girl, with her particular style and color, but uniform in the desire to be successful students and people who bring nachas to Hashem.
Come to Nefesh some summer evenings, and you will see an amazing sight. Nefesh students and staff have gotten together to paint and design a brand new student lounge! Teachers have given of their time, during their summer vacation, to spend evenings with their students in a productive and enjoyable endeavor. Nefesh students are happy to come to school during their vacation to do something good for school which will benefit them also, while having a good time with friends and teachers.
“Kosher fun” is an important part of the Nefesh jargon. School in Nefesh means quality learning, first-class education, and acquiring the skills, tools, and values of life. Extracurricular at Nefesh means valuable, hands-on, authentic Yiddishkeit and “kosher fun”–like painting the room purple. Certainly, when the girls are done with it, the room will be beautiful, inviting, and well-used. They also have a ping-pong table and other amenities.
Nefesh seems to understand that teenagers feel good about themselves when they are accomplishing, that they benefit greatly from having close connections to positive role models and mentors, and they flourish when they know that people genuinely care. They like to socialize and need to be in a good environment, all year round. Nefesh provides it. And quite obviously, Nefesh gets it. v