Click on the map below – The Shul World Weekly brings you incredibly local shul news from across the globe!
This week : Hollywood, Florida and Berlin, Germany!
It used to be that the extreme heat made The Young Israel of Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale feel empty-ish in the summers. Not the case anymore as it continues to grow exponentially. What in the early 1980’s was your typical shul in a home on the corner of Stirling and SW 33rd, is now a thriving congregation with over 500 member families (many are second generation members). Ironically, where the original home sat, today exists the youth wing, and YIH-FL has always been a youth-centric shul. With NCSY, Camp Mesorah, and Youth Department veteran Avi Frier leading the charge, the shul has carefully crafted a number of minyanim where children under 13 represent the tzibur (congregation) from the bimah accompanied by an adult so that they can, as extensively as possible, learn by doing. The shul features seven different options on Shabbos morning including Youth, Sephardic, and Young Professionals. Rabbi Edward Davis was recruited to the sunshine state from Richmond, Virginia in 1981, where, interestingly enough, one of his congregants was a young Avi Frier. Among other things, Rabbi Davis is famous for his love of Motown music. It is said that his family would just as likely welcome guests with a rendition of My Girl at their Shabbos table as Tzur Mishelo. Due to the crowds, they will be juggling space this coming Yom Tov season including setting up a satellite minyan at the nearby Club at Emerald Isles. Sukkot will bring back their signature Sukkah Hop, which takes place immediately following davening and has the children hopping sukkah to sukkah for a seven course meal instead of the usual candyfest.
The Fraenkelufer Synagogue got lucky. It rests in the heavily Turkish (i.e. Muslim) area of Berlin, but the Jewish community and their neighbors live within the liberal framework that makes up this modern city. The building that remains survived the Allied bombing at the close of World War II, although it only represents what was once a side structure used for children. The original shul, which was destroyed by the pogroms of 1938 and then demolished in the 1950’s, was home to 1500 Jews before the war. Like most shuls in countries decimated by the rise and fall of Nazism, Fraenkelufer had struggled along with what Jews remained, although it always maintained a minyan. That is, until about ten years ago when young people in the trendy neighborhood decided to adopt it, creating the Freunde der (Friends of) Synagogue Fraenkelufer Association. This group of young people (many from Israel and America) breathed new life into the old walls and there is now a steady pulse. The shul will most certainly be packed for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The shul – identifying as Conservative – does not have a Rabbi per se because in Germany nowadays, if you are Jewish, you pay a certain tax (as Christians or Muslims do as well for their religious needs) which funds the Jewish community as a whole. All shuls and rabbis fall under the general umbrella of “the Jewish community.”