By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
Amusement Parker Chief Rabbi
The joyous days of chol ha’moed Pesach are always in the spring, a season of comfortable weather after a cold winter. Chol ha’moed Sukkos is always in the fall, sometimes still in an Indian winter. Chol ha’moed is a great time to take the kids to amusement parks. Riding merry-go-rounds and roller coasters is guaranteed intense joy for children of all ages.
Adventurers Amusement Park at 1824 Shore Parkway, off of Bay Parkway and only minutes away from Boro Park, Bensonhurst, Flatbush, and Staten Island, is a perfect setting (adventurerspark.com). It is immediately next to the Bay Parkway Exit 5 off the Belt Parkway. The huge parking lot is free. Formerly and more popularly know as the “Nellie Bly” Amusement Park, it was renovated and renamed Adventurers Family Entertainment Center in 2007 by the gracious Romano family. It has more than 30 rides and attractions, many of which are kiddie rides. Other attractions include bumper cars and a miniature golf course. Admission to Adventurers Family Entertainment Center is free. Rides are modestly priced on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Just days before Sukkos 2010, I was asked to officiate as the host Rav of the amusement park for chol ha’moed. Having taken my own children to Nellie Bly many times while they were young, and having grandchildren of the age that would rejoice in the amusement park experience, I readily agreed and have been serving in that capacity every chol ha’moed since. Early on first day of that first chol ha’moed, I arrived to examine and prepare my “rabbinate.” The huge sukkah there was indeed impressive. Not being certain as to who built it, I lifted and slightly moved the schach to ensure that the sukkah was kosher for the many that were expected to come and enjoy it.
Hot pizza and knishes were freshly prepared by the renowned Amnon’s Pizza Store of 13th Avenue in Boro Park. Amnon’s carries the kosher certificate of Khal Adas Jeshurun (KAJ), is marketed nationally, and is delicious. Popcorn and cotton candy was continuously prepared by Candyland of 16th Avenue, under the kashrus certification of the Hisachdus Horabbonim (CRC). As the officiating Chief Rabbi of the amusement park, I made sure that all of the food preparation equipment, having broken their seals, was properly turned on and operating in full accordance with halacha. Additional packaged kosher snacks were plentifully available. For chol ha’moed Pesach, although no kosher-for-Passover snacks were sold except for canned soda, the picnic tables were scrubbed down every morning and meticulously cleaned throughout the day.
As more and more families entered the park, I was gratified that the rides all were operating flawlessly, literally like a Swiss watch, which was a pleasant surprise considering that some of the rides are almost 50 years old. Some of those old rides are living history. The carousel is an exquisite antique that continues to enrapture children as well as adults. Nellie Bly opened in 1966. The entire park was reorganized, reconstituted, and is ideal for families. Rides were accompanied by joyous chassidish and yeshivish music.
Children raced from ride to ride, trailed by their parents. The amusement park’s staff was extremely courteous and considerate. A good number of staff members were devoted to keeping the park, the rides, and the rest rooms spotless. A million pictures must have been taken each day by parents capturing their children’s joy with their cameras.
On Pesach, I was asked questions that focused on the different types of matzah and foods that people brought along. What beracha was to be made for various concoctions, and whether this or that kosher certification was reliable for Pesach. Someone mistook me for Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau. Though honored, I immediately and repeatedly indicated that the identification was wrong; I was nevertheless asked to bless many children. I guess being a Chief Rabbi, even of an amusement park, generates respect and veneration.
Interestingly, on Friday, erev Shabbos chol ha’moed, and on chol ha’moed erev yom tov, many families came as well, filling the entire park. Fathers brought their children giving the mothers a chance to prepare for the coming days. If an entering family had both father and mother, I happily assumed that they were guests and that the respective shviger had volunteered, or been volunteered, to make all of the preparations for yom tov.
Bohusher Rebbe Visits New York
Rabbi Yaakov Mendel Friedman, Bohusher Rebbe in Bnei Brak, arrived in New York on Tuesday, April 9, for his first Shabbos in Williamsburg. He was enthusiastically welcomed, with song and dance at the airport by several hundred chassidim. The tefillos and tisch on Shabbos Tazria—Metzora, April 12—13, will be held in the Continental Hall at 75 Rutledge Street. The Rebbe will be hosted at the family home of Yaakov Yochanan Mendelowitz, 473 Bedford Avenue, 718-486-8509.
The Rebbe arrived together with a large group of chassidim. In addition, large groups of chassidim will come from Boro Park, Monsey, Five Towns, and from as far away as from Montreal and Europe. The Shabbos will be a high point in Bohush chassidic history. The Rebbe wears his shtreimel with its velvet center rising above its surrounding fur. The Bohusher Rebbe, descendant of the Rihziner chassidish dynasty, davens in a separate room with his gabbai peeking in to ascertain that the Rebbe has completed Kriyas Shema and Shemona Esrei. The Friday night Kiddush, in particular, is an intense event. The Bohuser Rebbe re-enacts the Kiddush of his ancestors. Chassidim of old tell of the glory and intensity of previous Bohuser Rebbes in that, literally, the wine in the kiddush cup would boil over.
Today’s Bohusher Rebbe is a grandson of (on his mother’s side) and successor to Rabbi Yitzchok Friedman, zt’l (1903—1992), Bohusher Rebbe who succeeded his uncle and father-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Friedman, zt’l (d. 1942) Bohusher Rebbe. Rabbi Yitzchok presided in Bucharest from 1930 until the passing of his father-in-law. In addition, he was instrumental in saving the lives of thousands of Polish Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. He conducted his court for many years in Tel Aviv, and in his later years moved his beis medrash to Bnei Brak.
Currently, the Bohusher Rebbe guides the huge beis medrash in Bnei Brak together with a formidable yeshiva, in addition to shuls in Jerusalem, Brachfeld, and Beth Shemesh. The yeshiva is led by Rabbi Yehoshua Brim, leading disciple of Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis, zt’l (1864—1953), Chief Rabbi of the Jerusalem Badatz.
The Rihziner Rebbe conducted his holy service as that of a king. The majesty and glory of his court was the wonder of the time. Jealousy generated informers and he was incarcerated for two years. Upon release, he fled from Rihzin and settled in Sadugera, Bukovina, where he resumed his service in splendor. The Rihziner Rebbe’s offspring established the Bohusher, Boyaner, Chortokover, Husytaner, Sadigura, Skverer, and Vishnitzer chassidish dynasties. v
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the Rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and Director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. Rabbi Tannenbaum can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.