letters to the editor

Rabbi Hoffman:

If I may make you aware, this phenomenon does not just exist in shuls where the Rabbi delivers a drosho. I happen to daven in a large chasidishe shul with a wonderful and great Rebbe. Sometimes I and other people need to use the facilities during chazoras hasahatz and I have noticed a certain gentleman and his sons who are all dressed in full Chasidic garb making Kiddush on schnapps and cake etc. It could be understood if this was a one-time occurrence and they were in shul since the wee hours of the morning. But they arrive in shul when they are up to birchas Krias Shema and right away, they make kiddush. To enumerate all the mitzvos they are missing , not answering omein, missing kaddish sometimes even parts of Krias Hatorah is a real chilul Hashem  as if one is saying ‘these things are not important’ .

Where does this come from?  It is no wonder that many youth and even older people are just calling it quits on yiddishkeit. I agree 100 percent what Rabbi Weinrib said in 2004. I have a close friend who davens in a fine chasidishe shul where right after leining some prominent members go to a side room and make kiddush. He calls them “the alcoholic club.”  Not long ago I saw a clip about this and it is scary. You speak about Kovod Hatorah, what about Kovod Hamokom, Kovod Hamikdash, and above all “Kovod Atzmo,”  self respect.

Thank you, & keep up the good work, Hatzlocho rabbo.

Getzel Segal


Kavod HaRav:

I don’t generally comment on articles, but I felt compelled to reach out and engage the Rav in conversation on this topic. I do this with utmost respect.

I am the founder (instigator, perhaps) of the Kiddush Club in my shul. Here’s my background: I am from Queens and grew up in a typical Queens Yeshivish family. After two years of marriage, my wife and I moved to California, where my wife is from, to join in the family business and be close to her family. I developed some wonderful relationships here and was immediately accepted as a popular active member in the community and shul. I Daven for the amud regularly (hard to find people for that here) and promote Torah learning, organizing shiurim and mussar chaburas. I share a warm, close relationship with our Rav here and have him on speed-dial for various shailas.

But, Shabbos morning davening is brutal! There is only one shul in the neighborhood and it is an old school Young Israel-style davening. That may work for some, but for me and the rest of the under-40 crowd, it’s challenging. My apartment was a 30 second walk from the shul and I found myself slipping out bein gavra l’gavra to make kiddush and have a piece of cake. Over time, I found myself followed by one, two, three and soon a dozen guys from the chevra who were anyway chilling in the hallways of shul catching a breather from the long davening. Between Shachris and Mussaf there is so much dead time that we can leave after Shishi and have a 20 minute Kiddush before coming back for the Rav’s drasha!

It went from being an occasional kiddush to a weekly event with different guys bringing bottles and cakes and all looking forward to this special time to bond with the chevra. I have since moved to a house a few blocks away and the guy who lives in my old apartment has revived the Kiddush Club.

I think the point that is being missed about Kiddush Clubs is that many are not done with bad intentions. (Rarely does anyone leave our kiddush drunk.) But shul is becoming harder and harder for people to endure. Attention spans are shrinking and shuls don’t seem to be making an effort to make davening more manageable for the ADHD generation. Guys are starving for personal connections with friends and Shabbos morning provides an excellent opportunity for that. A few of my friends who struggle with coming to shul in general gain chizuk from the Kiddush Club and it encourages them to come to shul.

Can the Rav perhaps update the article or address the lack of engagement and excitement that exists in shuls today?

Dovid Love


Dear Rabbi Hoffman:

I enjoyed your article in 5tjt regarding the “Kiddush Club.” When I originally heard about it years ago, I couldn’t believe it, and it bothered me greatly. Thankfully, it does not take place in my shul.

I heard it takes place during the reading of the Haftorah. How strong is the chiyuv to first of all, stay and listen the Baal Maftir say the Haftorah, and secondly say the Haftorah with the Baal Maftir, even though it is not read from a klaf, but from a Chumash or Navi? I tried looking it up in the Mishna Berurah, but couldn’t find a definitive answer.

Larry Muller
Bridgeport, CT



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