Since Rosh Hashanah of 1983, our shul, Adereth Eliyahu, has been a vibrant part of Kew Gardens Hills. Due to the coronavirus, our shul, along with others, had to close their doors to comply with the rules. We all started davening at home and spent a surreal few months in isolation from our friends and family, including spending Pesach alone. At first, people wanted to go back to shul, but as time went on we got used to the situation and made the best of it, finding ourselves davening better, talking less, and waiting for the day when minyanim would start again.
Finally, outdoor minyanim could start on the sidewalks, in driveways, and in backyards. It was meaningful to all of us to once again be able to say “Amein” and hear kriyas haTorah. Aveilim could finally say Kaddish for their loved ones.
Once indoor davening was allowed, a decision had to be made. Sanitizing the shul and only allowing a limited number of mispallelim posed a dilemma. Most of our mispallelim who have been with us for years are in a high-risk category due to age or underlying conditions. Would we have to turn them away? And once the maximum number of men registered for minyan, anyone else who wanted to join would have to be turned away, too.
My husband, Akiva, made the decision not to reopen the shul. He could not bring himself to choose who could daven inside, and did not feel good about turning others away. Akiva himself would not be able to daven inside due to the recommendations advising anyone over a certain age not to daven indoors in a group setting.
About a month ago, people started thinking about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos. They questioned Akiva about opening the shul, but his decision remained the same. Health and safety were his main concerns, and he decided not to reopen at this time. The opportunity for Hashevaynu to rent our facilities came as an excellent solution. Their kehillah is a younger one, so the restrictions for older mispallelim do not apply. And this wonderful organization gets to have more room than they have had until now for their davening, many shiurim, and other activities. It was a match made in shamayim. The shul would not have to sit empty and alone. Instead it will be a vibrant makom of Torah learning and tefillah. We wish them hatzlachah.
The Adereth Eliyahu congregation is like a family. We have been together for so many years, sharing simchos and watching our children grow up, get married, and start their own families. We have also shared in sad times, saying goodbye to dear friends. We hope to stay in touch and continue sharing happy occasions. Just as Akiva had a dream years ago to build a shul for his father and move his parents to Kew Gardens Hills, he has a dream now to move Kew Gardens Hills to Eretz Yisrael. We all see what is happening in our cities, and maybe it is time for us to start thinking about going home to Israel.
It is not an easy decision or an easy move. But maybe Hashem brought this whole upheaval to our lives to show us how unpredictable life is and to remind us that this is galus. As good as America has been, the tide can turn.
That is why we are waiting impatiently for Israel’s borders to open to tourists so we can look around the country for a location to develop into the kind of beautiful, warm, and inviting neighborhood we have here. Many people are interested and have contacted us — let us do it! Let’s roll!
We want to thank our mispallelim over all the years, our gabbaim, our ba’alei tefillah, our ba’alei kriah, maggidei shiur, and everyone who has made our shul so special. Thank you for joining us in the mitzvah of kibbud av va’eim, where my in-laws spent such memorable and happy years.
I hope that everyone stays safe and healthy, and we should all be blessed with a shanah tovah u’mesukah.
Shiur via Zoom from Israel, Sunday, September 13 at 11:30 a.m. Presented by Congregation Etz Chaim Of Kew Gardens Hills. Dr. Pnina Neuwirth, lecturer on Jewish Thought and Law, will speak on “Are There Exceptions to the Rule of Teshuva? The Story of the Rabbi Who Went Off the Derech.” Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom information after September 10.
Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or email email@example.com.