Click on the map below – The Shul World Weekly brings you incredibly local shul news from across the globe!
This week : Australia, Woodmere, and Zurich!
Lakewood is synonymous with serious Torah scholarship due to the work and vision of Rav Aharon Kotler and his son Rav Shneuer, which began in New Jersey in 1943. They have set up kollels (places of pure Torah study) all around the world to support and increase religious learning. The very first overseas branch was established in Melbourne in 1981. Kollel Beth HaTalmud: Yehuda Fishman Institute serves the community by having approximately twenty full time kollel members study Torah by day, and hosts men of all backgrounds and levels to learn at night. On Shabbos, the tables are covered in white clothes to create an enhanced atmosphere. Over 100 attend Shabbos prayers at the kollel with about 150 fathers and sons learning together on Saturday nights. Rabbi Binyomin Wurzberger, originally from Washington Heights, New York, leads the kollel and shul. During the month of Elul – a time of self reflection and improvement – which begins this week, the kollel has a tradition of reading a different section from the book Orchos Chaim (Paths of Life) before mincha each night. Orchos Chaim was written by the Rosh, a 13th century German talmudic genius.
The Israelitische Religionsgesellshaft Zurich, or IRGZ Shul, was born in 1898 after breaking away from the main shul of Zurich (ICZ), which itself opened in 1884. They moved into their current building almost 100 years ago. The IRGZ, originally meant to be the Yekkish (German) version of ICZ, has become more Litvish (Lithuanian influence) over the years, with fewer PhDs and more black hats. Despite the change in clientele, the shul still prays in the yekke manner, using the Rodelheim nusach and the Sfas Emes siddur, and the Chazan will always wear a special hat while at the bimah. There are two minaynim every Shabbos with hundreds praying inside a converted mansion last redesigned in 1918. Rabbi Chaim Moshe Levy, like many Rabbis this time of year, was away this past Shabbos visiting family. Rabbi Levy was installed in 2007, though his father, a student of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, had been the Rabbi before him beginning in 1972. A Shabbos Kiddush at IRGZ is sure to include two Swiss staples: the crème schnitz (a bakery delight similar to a Napoleon cake) and shots of Kirsch (cherry liquor).
Woodmere, New York
Over twenty years ago, a few stirred souls from a small town on Long Island were looking for a more spiritual, inspiring place to daven and around which to raise their families. This dream blossomed into Aish Kodesh, which is now known the world over for its powerful, melodious davening and its emphasis on Torah study relating to classical and Chassidic works. It also provides a mikvah for daily use and an extensive Sunday morning learning program. In the great Chassidic tradition, Aish Kodesh is sustained by and infused with the energy and vitality of a phenomenal Rav, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger. Rav Weinberger chose the name Aish Kodesh to honor the memory of the Piazeczna Rebbe, who wrote a sefer of the same name during his brief tenure as the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto. Last Shabbos the shul hosted Rav Yisroel Steinwurtzel from Yeshiva Shor Yashuv as scholar in residence. With Elul around the corner, the shul braces itself for selichos (special additional prayers asking God for mercy and forgiveness), which begin after Shabbos at midnight with a deep message from Rav Weinberger. The entire community gathers (from near and far) for heart wrenching services and singing that go on until 2:00 am. Aish Kodesh draws tremendous crowds on a weekly basis to hear Rav Weinberger’s sharp, but very accessible wisdom, but even more-so on these landmark occasions.