I hope this letter finds you and your families well.
We have exciting news to share! After thirteen years without a rabbi, we have finally found an outstanding spiritual leader for our community, Rabbi Mike Moskowitz. He is warm, energetic and as enthusiastic to be the rabbi of Old Broadway as we are enthusiastic to have him. Rabbi Moskowitz studied in the major yeshivos of Mir and Lakewood, and received his semichah from Rabbi Nehemia Zalman Goldberg in Israel. A native of Richmond, Virginia, he returned there after finishing his studies and became the mashgiach ruchani (dean of students) at the Yeshiva of Virginia. Later Rabbi Moskowitz created the Torah Learning Center in Richmond, in which he directed a kollel for advanced students and established a number of outreach activities including a beginners’ minyan. After the high holidays, Rabbi Moskowitz will be joining our community with his wife Keren, who has long been involved in Jewish life in New York and is an administrator in the rabbinic placement department of Yeshiva University.
With more Jews moving into Harlem and with Columbia building their new campus two blocks away, now is the time to raise Old Broadway’s profile to make it an even more exciting and welcoming for the neighborhood’s growing Jewish population. Rabbi and Mrs. Moskowitz will employ their energy, vision and learning, walking in the footsteps of Rabbi and Mrs. Kret, to grow the shul both in people and in Torah. We will need your help to fund Rabbi Moskowitz’s salary, but I can say with confidence that your contribution will be a great investment in the Jewish future.
The situation in Israel this past summer has set everyone in the Jewish community on edge. We are reminded once again that the very existence of the Jewish people is a threat to those who wish to do evil. Our anxiety about Israel and the Middle East this year finds an echo in the Jewish liturgical calendar during the late summer and early fall. The Haftaros from the Shabbat following Tisha ba-Av to the Shabbat preceding Rosh Hashanah are called the Sheva de’Nechamta (Seven Haftaros of Comfort), all taken from the Book of Isaiah.
The Haftaros acknowledge the presence of our enemies, but remind us that they are nothing before God (40:17). Ultimately, the nations will acknowledge us (49:22-23). We will spread out and will not be ashamed (54: 3-8) and finally, we will be able to live in our land in peace and security, as the prophet says, “No longer shall violence be heard in your land, [nor] plunder and breakage in your borders, but you shall call God’s salvation your [protective] walls and [His] praise your gateways” (60:18). Although Isaiah prophesied over 2,700 years ago, his words continue to give us consolation and hope today.
We are looking forward to the High Holidays. We will be holding our joint Selichos service with the Colunbia/Barnard Hillel at 12:30am on Motzoei Shabbos, September 20th/21st. The service will be led by Orrin Tilevitz, as he has done beautifully for many years. This year we will celebrate our twelfth annual Rosh Hashanah dinner. I am delighted to note that our wonderful High Holiday baalei tefilah, Yosef Tannenbaum and Rabbi Reuven Hoff, will be back again to lead us in davening this year.
As I reported previously, the New York Landmarks Conservancy awarded us a $25,000 Jewish Heritage Fund matching grant to help pay for repointing of the exterior of the building, replacing the rear exit doors, repainting the fire escapes and restoring the rear stained-glass window. Thanks to your help, we raised the $35,000 in matching funds needed to be eligible for the grant. Since then, the Landmarks Conservancy has given us an additional $7,000 grant but has asked us to expand the project to include the façade of the building so that the total cost will be $80,000. This means that we will have to raise another $13,000 to cover the cost of the project. We hope that we can turn to you again for assistance. Your support will enable us complete the exterior and move on to restoring the interior of the building.
We have had a good spring and a good summer. Thanks to an anonymous donor, we were able to accommodate all fifty people who wish to attend our popular Passover Seder. Raif Melhado, a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, taught at the Shavuos dinner. Micah Halperin, a rabbi, author and columnist for the Huffington Post, served as a guest scholar in the spring and in the summer. Rabbi Daniel Fridman continues to give his excellent shiur every Sunday morning after Shacharis. Thanks to Dale Brown’s efforts our garden in the back provides a verdant and welcome place for contemplation. Dale also led us this past July on another very successful visit (I believe it is our thirteenth) to the Old Broadway section of the Riverside Cemetery, where we tended to the graves of our deceased members and recited Kel Male in their memory.
I would like to thank you for your ongoing generous support. You have enabled us to welcome people with beautiful davening, a beautiful shul and a warm community. As the New Year approaches, and as we hire a new rabbi, we turn to you again. We hope that we continue to be worthy of your assistance so that we may continue to be a beacon of Yiddishkeit and Torah to many Jews in Harlem, Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side. May Hashem inscribe and seal you and your families for good health, happiness and success for the New Year.
,לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו
,א גוט געבענטשט יאר
Dr. Paul Radensky