September 20, 2020 Great American Jewish Cities #18: Boro Park Part II
The most Jewish place outside of Israel? The center of the universe? Boro Park seems to be the epicenter of Jewish life in many ways. As it developed pre war, it was an out of town upscale neighborhood for those distancing themselves from Manhattan and Williamsburg. The original shuls like Shomrei Emunah, Temple Beth-El, Anshe Sfard, Bnei Yehuda and others grew at the time. Eitz Chaim Yeshiva and the Shulamis school for girls were the first schools of its kind in the neighborhood, and in the case of the latter in the entire country.
Slowly the neighborhood attracted different kind of crowd. The Chernobyl Rebbe established the first chassidic shtiebel in the 1930's. After the war, Rav Avraham Joffen opened the Novardok Yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler became a neighborhood resident and a group of Mir students from Shanghai established the Mir Minyan on 16th Ave & 54th St. Moshe Koussevitzky was the Chazzan at Beth-El during this time.
It wasn't long before the Chassidim began arriving in ever greater numbers. The Munkatch court was revived there, and the Bobover Rebbe arrived in the late '60's from Crown Heights. Novominsk, Sighet, Ger, Belz, Spinka and dozens of other dynasties had their headquarters, the Rebbe or at least a shtibel in the neighborhood.
Mendelssohn's Pizza, Biegeleisen's sforim store, Maimonides Hospital and the shopping of 13th Ave all became fixtures of Boro Park and into the realm of legend. Rav Moshe Sherer's efforts to rehabilitate the neighborhood in the late 1970's led to further growth and expansion. Great poskim like Rav Menashe Klein, Rav Moshe Bick, the Debrecen Rov and many others called Boro Park home. A comprehensive list of the people and places in Boro Park's storied history would be too vast, and a small peek into the sights and sounds of the neighborhood will suffice.
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