With music and dancing, more than 400 men, women and children welcomed a century-old Sefer Torah rescued from Europe into the growing and vibrant Bais Tefila of Inwood at Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island, 321 Doughty Blvd. The event was originally planned for last autumn, but was delayed by Hurricane Sandy, that wreaked havoc one week before the scheduled date.
Rabbis from across the Five Towns and Far Rockaway participated, in an inspiring display of unity. The Torah was carried with great respect and joy “very kavodik and laibydick (lively)” down Doughty Boulevard that was closed off by police, said Adam Mayer, board member and gabbai at Bais Tefila.
In the procession, from a shul member’s home on Morris Avenue to the yeshiva, congregants brought out the yeshiva’s and shul’s existing Sifrei Torah and the crowd danced jubilantly with them. Participants then had a “full sit down seuda (meal)” in the Yeshiva Ketana dining room. It “was packed, standing room only,” Mayer said.
The old Torah was “still usable” but had to be repaired, said Yehuda Zachter, a member of the shul’s board. The anonymous donor wanted to put it “in a vibrant community that could utilize it,” he explained. The Torah was donated by the Zachter family.
“The Torah was in pretty good shape,” Mayer pointed out. “It is symbolic, taking a Torah from the ashes of Europe into a young growing community. That was a big part of the simcha, the symbolism.”
Mayer said a few “pioneers” moved to Inwood and the shul — located within the Five Towns-Far Rockaway eruv — started as a minyan in someone’s basement about five years ago. They daven nusach Ashkenaz.
The shul’s Rav, Rabbi Pinchos Weinberger, joined as a member and was asked to become the Rav. He is the son of Rabbi Dovid Weinberger of Shaarei Tefillah of Lawrence. Rabbi Pinchas Weinberg is also the rosh yeshiva, along with Rabbi Yissacher Blinder, of Yeshiva Nishmas HaTorah in Bais Medrash Heichal Dovid, in Lawrence.
Mayer said Bais Tefila has already purchased a property for a mikvah and are “in the planning and development stage and are raising funds.”
“The closest one is in Far Rockaway,” explained Zachter. “For the women, Friday night is a major shlep. There is a need for another nice mikvah in the Five Towns.. We hired a contractor and the planning is moving along.”
Mayer noted that young families have been moving to Inwood, where “housing is a little less expensive.”
“It’s a wonderful community, one shul, one community, it’s not spread out,” he said.
“It helped that Yeshiva Ketana moved there,” stated Mayer. “They have a beautiful building, a Bais Midrash, a kitchen and are very gracious to us and very accommodating.”
There are currently more than 50 families in the community, with ”two more moving in this month.” He said. “It’s wonderful — the Jewish community is the shul and the shul is the Jewish community.”
Mayer cited the small town feel of Inwood along with the advantages of big city amenities available in the Five Towns.
The shul has a discretionary fund and a gemach (free loan) that the Rav administers. Shiurim (classes) include a halacha lmaaseh shiur (practical Jewish law class) by the Rav and a shiur for women.
“We’re closer to Brach’s than any other of the Five Towns — we are across the street from Lawrence. We are a ten minute walk to the White Shul and Shaarei Tefilla.”
He said the community’s children attend school at Siach Yitzchok, Yeshiva Ketana, Darchei Torah, TAG, Bnos Bais Yaakov, and Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam.
Inwood, said Mayer, “is robust. It is continuing to strengthen and it’s wonderful.”