A capacity crowd filled the beis midrash and spilled out into the halls at Kehillas Ahavas Yisrael this past Shabbos, as the Cedarhurst shul celebrated the Chanukas HaBayis of their new building at 545 Arbuckle Ave. In just a few short years, KAY has grown from a small minyan in a garage to one of the premier batei kneisiyos in the Five Towns, today under the leadership of Rabbi Daniel Glatstein.
Nearly since its founding, KAY occupied a storefront on Peninsula Boulevard adjacent to the Pickwick convenience store, which became one of the nicknames for the shul in its early days. The shul briefly attained national fame during Hurricane Sandy, when the entire shul was under five feet of water which severely damaged or destroyed nearly all of their Sifrei Torah. But the floodwaters did not dampen the kehillah’s resolve, and they rebuilt quickly, continuing to grow both in numbers and in ruchniyus. Over five years ago, the congregation set out on an ambitious project to build a permanent home across the street that would not only house the kehillah but serve as an anchor shul to the Cedarhurst and Woodmere communities. Through the tireless efforts of many devoted mispallelim and the generosity of dozens and dozens of donors, the kehillah was finally able to realize their dream this past week.
To celebrate the opening of the new mikdash me’at, the shul welcomed chazzan Shulem Lemmer and the Mezamrim Choir, who led the beautiful tefillos over Shabbos. At a Friday-night oneg in the shul’s expansive social hall, local rabbanim Rabbi Yaakov Feitman, mara d’asra of Kehilas Bais Yehuda Tzvi, and Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, mara d’asra of Beis Haknesses of North Woodmere, offered divrei berachah to the gathered guests. Cementing the new building as a true makom Torah right from the start, the shul celebrated not one, but two siyumim as well, a siyum haShas by Mr. Nosson Treitel and a siyum of Maseches Moed Kattan by over a dozen mispallelim who finished the masechta in honor of the chanukas ha’bayis. At shalosh seudos, guest speaker Rabbi Dov Loketch, mara d’asra of Agudas Yisrael of Detroit, shared divrei Torah related to the chanukas ha’bayis and wished the kehillah continued hatzlachah.
On motzaei Shabbos, the children of KAY were treated to a melaveh malkah concert starring singer Joey Newcomb. After the kids were tucked safely in bed, the adults returned for a formal inauguration ceremony. The event began with the recitation of Tehillim led by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva of South Shore, and Rabbi Meir Braunstein, mara d’asra of Agudath Israel of Long Island. Then guest speaker HaRav Hillel David, mara d’asra of Shaarei Torah Brooklyn, addressed the crowd of invited rabbanim, local dignitaries, including Cedarhurst Mayor Ben Weinstock, and the many friends and families of the shul in attendance. The ceremony concluded with a passionate speech from Rabbi Glatstein who spoke of how over 90% of those who davened in the shul were grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and the establishment of this new shul represented the continued new dawn of Yiddishkeit after the tremendous dusk just a few generations ago. All in attendance then enjoyed a sumptuous melaveh malkah with spirited dancing late into the night. At the melaveh malkah, Rabbi Yaakov Bender, rosh ha’yeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, remarked that when he walked into the hall he was struck by the tremendous achdus amongst the shul members and collective sense of joy.
The new building is dedicated in memory of Mr. Moshe Yaacov Jakabovits, a’h, a Holocaust survivor who fled Hungary to build a new life in America and raise three daughters with his wife, Mrs. Beila Jakabovits, who was in attendance on motzaei Shabbos. In his honor, the shul has adopted its new name, Kehillas Ahavas Yisrael Bais Moshe Yaacov.