Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World


As the school year comes to a close, an exodus from the city takes place. At precisely this time of the year, one feels that the grass is much greener somewhere else. In spite of the challenging economy and rising gas prices, it seems almost everyone evacuates the city to dream bungalows, villas, and summer homes in the Catskills. Though we all assume a somewhat more relaxed lifestyle during the summer months, the observant community does not really change. Our unique Jewish attribute of living lives of halachic exploration, questioning every aspect of our religious experience, rushes forward unimpeded. So, if one is in the Catskills (or if his rabbi is there and he is elsewhere), where should the routine or very special she’eilos (questions in Jewish law) be directed?

Torah Observance

As an annual service to the observant community, the Hisachdus HaRabonim, the Chassidishe rabbinic organization headquartered in Williamsburg, issues its contact list of qualified rabbis who stand ready to receive and respond to she’eilos during the summer months. An army of Torah respondents has been redeployed and is at summer battle stations, ready to respond to halachic inquiries as well as explain the meaning of a critical word on your daf yomi. This is in conjunction with a number of general guidelines that have been issued by the Hisachdus relating to the proper conduct and religious observances incumbent upon all of us during the entire year, including the summer months. The list has been developed through long years of experience, is continually updated, and issued every year. This article should be cut out and posted, at a minimum, in every shul. The following conveys the Hisachdus spirit:

Erev Shabbos

Many camps, bungalow colonies, and hotels begin Shabbos earlier than the standard 18 minutes before sh’kiah (sunset). In scheduling Friday departure times to the Catskills, or to anywhere else, confirm when exactly Shabbos begins at your destination. Under no circumstances should anyone begin to travel late on Friday afternoon. In addition to a long list of ongoing construction projects, highways and roadways are routinely congested at such times, even when the weather is nice. When traffic eases and begins to move, one might be tempted to speed and drive dangerously to make up for lost time, something that must absolutely be avoided. If your driver’s license is not in order, or is suspended or revoked, you may very well spend Shabbos in jail. If in doubt, call 518-474-0841 to confirm the validity of your driver’s license. Also, do not forget the new traffic rule requiring drivers to “move over” for emergency vehicles.

Unavoidable delays may encroach on proper Shabbos times and create great difficulty in proper Shabbos observance. Many rabbis recommend that Friday travelers take with them candles, challos, and a bottle of wine or grape juice. Those traveling to be with chassidishe rebbes cannot rely on Divine intercession and must take all precautions and make all necessary preparations. In addition, in 2011, several leading rabbis issued a proclamation advising that in the Catskills, because of its altitude, sunset is a few minutes later than indicated in most directories and calendars. Therefore, they rule, motzaei Shabbos times are actually five minutes later.

Kosher Eiruvin

Every camp, hotel, and bungalow colony must ensure that its eiruv was properly designed and securely installed. A rabbi renowned for expertise in eiruvin should be consulted to guarantee that the eiruv meets all halachic criteria. The Hisachdus, without charge, will dispatch such a rav upon request. A reliable learned individual should be appointed to assume the responsibility of checking the eiruv every Friday to ensure that the eiruv remains in full and exacting compliance with the instructions of the overseeing rav.


While on vacation, one must maintain the kashrus standards adhered to all year. While traveling or while on vacation, every food item purchased must be checked for a familiar kashrus certification. If unsure, use your cell phone to call your rabbi, or any rabbi listed here, or a rabbi known to you to be reliable. Kashrus Magazine’s summer issue is highly recommended as a great source of information.

Lakes And Swimming Pools

Swimming pools must be secured to prevent toddlers and young children’s unauthorized entry. The gate must be locked and inaccessible any time a supervising, responsible adult is not present. When open, an adult, preferably with life-saving training, must be present and in charge. Every swimming pool must have one individual designated as responsible to oversee all pool matters. Those swimming in lakes must be accompanied by at least one other person. Swimming pools must have appropriate partitions to preserve modesty.

Life Insurance

The issue of life insurance for family breadwinners and family caretakers is a non-negotiable need and applies all year round. The advertisements and flyers seeking contributions to maintain families that have lost a parent sadly abound. One such tragedy is one too many. As our communities baruch Hashem keep growing, the actuarial percentage of such tragedies increases consistently. No one is immune. No one is exempt. The cost of term life insurance of $500,000 for a healthy 30-year-old man is approximately $20 per month. The obligation and necessity for life insurance must be emphasized, beginning at chassan—kallah classes. Insurance acquired at an earlier age is considerably cheaper; hence, the younger one begins, the better. This is not only mandatory for a yeshiva rebbe; it is an absolute necessity for every family breadwinner and caretaker, regardless of profession.

Find A Mikveh

In selecting a mikveh during your vacation, ascertain that a qualified rabbi has approved the mikveh. No one should ever use a mikveh without another person present. A lake or a swimming pool does not constitute a kosher mikveh. In the Catskills and summer resorts, the following mikvehs are functioning and are under qualified rabbinical supervision: Bethlehem, NH 603-869-3336; Ellenville 845-647-4472; 732-267-6561; and 845-647-6846; Fleischmanns 845-254-6349 and 845-254-4880; Liberty 845-292-6677; Monsey 845-371-0211; Monticello 845-794-6757 and 845-794-8470; South Fallsburg 845-436-3333; Swan Lake 845-845-292-3703 and 845-292-8031; White Lake 845-583-9702; and Woodridge 845-436-4987 and 845-436-7960.

Behavior In Public

Picnic Areas

When using public picnic areas, whether in a park or comfort station on a highway, one is always required to act properly, maintain cleanliness, and not use any public grill. Foods purchased at picnic concessions must also have acceptable kashrus certification.

Torah Lectures

And Shiurim

In order to continually refresh the soul as well as the body, every bungalow colony and hotel must endeavor to arrange Torah lectures, shiurim, and study sessions for men, women, and children. These shiurim should be arranged for Fridays, Shabbos, Sundays, and every weekday.

She’eilos? Stumped?

Call A Rabbi!

As questions arise during the summer months when one is away from home or one’s congregational rabbi may be serving elsewhere in a summer capacity, qualified rabbis are standing by at the ready to respond to your inquiries. Do not hesitate to call. The following is the updated and expanded list of Hisachdus and other qualified rabbis by location, in alphabetical order, on call:

Kerhonkson. Rabbi Yitzchok Stein, Foltechaner Dayan, 845-626-3632, 2:00—3:00 p.m., 7:00—8:30 p.m., and 10:00—11:30 p.m.

Kiamesha Lake. Rabbi Yeshaya Gedalye Kaufman, Hisachdus Dayan, 347-538-2783 and 845-794-2678.

Liberty. Rabbi Zvi Ausch, Volkaner Rav, 718-237-2112; and Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Shneibalg, Belzer Dayan, 845-295-3301.

Monroe. Avnei Tzedek Beis Horoah 845-782-5763; KJ Beis Horoah 845-782-6465, 7:00 a.m.—10:00 p.m.; Rabbi Chanoch Henach Ashkenazi, KJ Dayan, 845-782-0751, 8:15—9:30 a.m., 6:20—7:30 p.m., and 10:30—11:30 p.m.; Rabbi Elyakim Getzel Berkowitz, Senior KJ Dayan, 845-783-8715; Rabbi Pisachye Fried, rav of Chevra Bnei Israel, 845-782-8049, 6:30—8:00 p.m.; Rabbi Shimon Zev Meisels, rav of Yismach Moshe, 845-782-2533; Rabbi Yoel Morgenstern, Sharmasher Rav, 845-781-4172, 11:30 a.m.—1:00 p.m. and 3:00—8:00 p.m.

Monsey. Rabbi Binyamin Gruber, Hisachdus Dayan, 845-425-7516; Rabbi Yitzchok Avrohom Jungreis, Monsey Tosdher Dayan, 845-558-8257; Rabbi Avrohom Katz, rav of Mishkanos L’avir Yaakov, 845-371-8292, 6:30—8:00 p.m.; Rabbi Shimon Katz, Vayoel Moshe Dayan, 845-426-2348, 1:00—8:15 p.m. and 10:30—11:30 p.m.; Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Neiman, Vishnitzer Dayan, 845-356-4712; Rabbi Chaim Shraga Feivel Shneibalg, Monsey Avreichim Rav, 845-425-8977; and Rabbi Menachem Mayer Weissmandl, Rav Toras Chemed, 845-352-1807, 845-425-1364, 4:30—6:30 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. to midnight.

Mount Kisco. Rabbi Hillel Weinberger, Nitra Dayan, 914-244-1425, after 1:00 p.m.

Monticello. Rabbi Berish Labin, Boro Park Toldos Aaron Dayan, 732-678-3217; Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Saks, Dayan Beis Moshe Aaron, 845-794-3337.

Parksville. Rabbi Aaron Yeshaye Rosner, Sombotheily Dayan, 718-594-5806.

Seagate. Rabbi Pinchas Mordechai Meisels, Dayan, 718-372-0831, 7:00 p.m.—11:00 p.m.; and Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Meisels, Rav Yereim, 718-373-1444.

South Fallsburg. Rabbi Yehuda Firth, Hisachdus Dayan, 347-461-8330; Rabbi Yoel Fried, Hisachdus Dayan, 646-345-7637; Rabbi Yirmiyah Friedman, Hisachdus Dayan, 845-434-1136, 10:30 a.m.—12:00 p.m.; Rabbi Shlomo Kohn, Ada Rav, Shoproner Camp, Bungalow North 12, 845-434-1877; Rabbi Yitzchok Halberstam, Tartakover Dayan, 845-434-7569; Rabbi Moshe Aryeh Lieberman, Hisachdus Dayan, 845-434-4548, after 7:00 p.m.; Rabbi Simcha Aaron Stroli, Viener Dayan, 347-992-1863; and Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Nirbator Rav, 845-434-9272.

Swan Lake. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Abraham, Hisachdus Dayan, 845-292-9719, 11:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.—1:00 a.m.; Rabbi Yehuda Leib Fisher, Pupa Dayan, 845-292-3608: Rabbi Yitzchok Aaron Goldberger, Pupa Rosh Yeshiva, 845-292-6949, 10:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m. and 3:00—6:00 p.m.; Rabbi Aaron Greenwald, Pupa Dayan, 845-292-9878, 4:00—6:00 p.m. and 7:30—9:15 p.m.; Rabbi Asher Mann, Hisachdus Dayan, 845-292-2664; Rabbi Asher Mann, Hisachdus Dayan, 845-292-2664; Rabbi Asher Gedalye Pollack, Brashover Rav, 845-292-2204; and Rabbi Moshe Menachem Weiss, Boro Park Pupa Dayan, 718-889-4662, 10:00—11:00 a.m. and 7:00—11:00 p.m.

Thompsonville. Rabbi Avrohom Halberstam, Tartakover Rosh Kollel, 845-434-7283.

White Lake. Rabbi Akiva Ludmir, Pressburger Rav, 845-583-8360.

Woodbourne. Rabbi Avrohom Zvi Friedman, Galanta Dayan, 347-684-3025; Rabbi Yosef Chaim Moskowitz, Shotzer Rav, 845-436-8604; Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rav, 845-434-2568; and Rabbi Yosef Dovid Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Dayan, 718-855-7701.

Woodridge. Rabbi Yoel Katz, Hisachdus Dayan, 845-434-9654; and Rabbi Asher Anshel Sher, Klason Rav, 845-436-7367, 11:00 a.m.—12:30 p.m., 3:30—6:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. to midnight. 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. He can be contacted at


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