Click on the map below – The Shul World Weekly brings you incredibly local shul news from across the globe!
This week : Westhapmton, Memphis, South Africa, and Rechavia!

The Hampton Synagogue – recently renamed The Rabbi Marc Schneier Community Center – celebrated its 25th anniversary at a gala Dinner this past February. When Rabbi Schneier first came out to the famed Long Island summer retreat for the rich and famous, there was no religious Jewish life to speak of. Some might have seen an orthodox shul in such a place as a pipedream. Today, there are 10,000 people on their email list with 1,500 Jews from across the spectrum and all over the map, davening together each summer Shabbos. Because of the location, the shul is percolating six months a year with programs galore including the Jewish Film Festival, and visiting superstar guests such as Michael Oren, Marco Rubio, and Hillary Clinton. The shul is open in the winter months as well, but attendance dwindles to about 100. This past Shabbos, their scholar in residence was Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who also gave lectures on Tisha B’av day. Assistant Rabbi Levi Welton spoke about the connection between Tisha B’av and Tu B’av, contrasting the day of sorrow and despair to what has been called the most joyous day on the Jewish calendar. He reminded the congregation that though we may stand in the shadow of a nuclear Iran, we must remember that our foundation has always been the nucleus of family. On Saturday night following Eichah, Rabbis Schneier, Welton, and Riskin lead a kumzitz consisting of songs about Yerushalayim punctuated by personal stories from the Rabbis about their love of and experiences in the land of Israel. Next up is an event to support of American Friends of IDF this Saturday night.

Memphis, Tennessee, USA

In 1950, when the Baron Hirsch Synagogue moved to its current location, it was the largest shul building in North America. Despite its 153 year history, the shul remains vibrant and an emblem of Southern hospitality and charm. It acts as the main catering hall for the community and actually runs the only Jewish sleepaway camp in the South, aptly name Camp Darom (in the mountains of Alabama!) Current membership sits at 500 families, with many being “legacy” members who stay connected to their orthodox roots through the shul. This past Shabbos, Rabbi Shia Finkelstein said that Moshe’s final message to the people was that we should focus on our own shortcomings over those of others. On Tisha Ba’av, the Rabbi gave a shiur called Reality v. Tradition: The Relevancy of the Blessing Nachem in Light of the Six Day War. The shul makes it a point to daven only in the main sanctuary for all services on Tisha Ba’av, as if it were a full-fledged Yom Tov, because the hope and plan is that it will soon become one. Next on the calendar is the shul’s annual Welcome Back event which will be, naturally, a bbq.

 

Cape Town, South Africa

The Cape Town Hebrew Congregation goes by many names. Its popular name is the Gardens Shul, but it is also referred to as the “Mother Synagogue of South Africa.” It was the first Congregation to be formed in Sub Saharan Africa, having been founded in 1841. The membership currently consists of about 1000 souls. In recent years the Campus around the Shul has been developed to include the SA Jewish Museum and the Cape Town Holocaust Center. Services are led by Chazzan Choni Goldman (aka Choni G) and a wonderful choir. Since the arrival of Choni last Pesach, the choir services have undergone a transformation, merging traditional Chazzanut with upbeat Lebedike tunes, many with a uniquely African style.  This coming Shabbat, the Gardens Shul is celebrating its 72nd Friday Night Live – a monthly initiative launched by Rabbi Osher Feldman almost eight years ago where hundreds of people participate. At this month’s Friday Night Live, the Grade 1 class of Herzlia Primary School will sing a few songs during the service and the Matric (Grade 12) class of the Herzlia High School will be honoured. The service will be followed by cocktails/social in the Shul piazza. There will then be a Shabbat dinner for the Matrics in Café Riteve, a delicious café on the Shul Campus, and another Shabbat dinner in the Shul hall for those joining the ShabbaTOWN (Shabbaton in town).

 

Rehavia, Israel

The Hovevei Zion Synagogue was founded over 45 years ago by a few olim, lead by Dr. Blondheim and Mr. Bob Ash, who left a Young Israel in America for the real thing. From those humble beginnings, the shul has spectacularly flourished. It just so happens to be the shul of choice for Israel’s Prime Minister for the High Holidays. And the President attends regularly. The 2 daily and 5 Shabbat minyanim are uniformly packed as it is a popular destination for locals and visiting Anglos (Ashkenzaic davening). This past Shabbat, Rabbi Avigdor Burstein discussed Kamtza and Bar Kamtza and how the story reflects fault by all parties. He said the anonymous party host represents all of us and our failures as often we are silent spectators to sinat chinam. The shul looks forward to a major Shabbat Nachamu kiddush this weekend.