BJX Flatbush Shabbos Project: More Than A Thousand Jews Gather Together in Unity

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“Brooklyn is alive,” thundered Rabbi Paysach Krohn, guest speaker, at the Flatbush Shabbos Project. Many were astonished that a Shabbos of this magnitude was possible in Brooklyn. The sentiment was that many families left Brooklyn for greener pastures- yet each venue was crammed with people. “There must have been more than a thousand people who joined the various minyanim, lectures and the Shalosh Seudos,” mused Rabbi Krohn.

Certain scenes defy description. Certain images can’t be conveyed in words. To capture the essence of the past BJX Flatbush Shabbos Project in words is impossible. You had to witness it firsthand. You generally assume Kiruv is needed anywhere but inside Brooklyn. “It was incredible to see the wide variety of Yidden who attended the BJX Shabbos Project. They came from every background and every level of commitment. Rabbis Fingerer displayed an open heart of love and acceptance to every person,” exclaimed Rabbi Paysach Krohn. People’s souls were ignited. Frum and non-frum- everyone felt that this past Shabbos was transformative.

The Flatbush Shabbos Project commenced last Thursday with an epic Challah bake. Women from every background packed Kingsway Jewish Center, ready to prepare for a Shabbos like no other. Unaffiliated college girls who had never baked Challah before joined with young mothers and grandmothers to be part of a Mitzvah that spans generations. In her inimitable style, Yaffa Palti, led the joint JCCMP- BJX Challah Bake, creating an evening of fun, inspiration and unity. Rav Yitzchok Fingerer shared words of inspiration, conveying how Challah signifies benevolence and sacrifice.

“The BJX Challah Bake was amazing. There was so much achdus, singing and dancing,” said Rachel M. High school students from less affiliated families went up on stage to join the dancing and music. Their principal said that the Challah Bake was a turning point for these girls. Everyone left with fond memories, fresh Challos and keepsakes.

Flatbush families opened their homes and hosted numerous young professionals so that they can benefit from this special Shabbos. Each speech was packed with hundreds of Jews of all backgrounds. Rochel Cohen, a Flatbush resident, said that Shabbos was electrifying. Rabbi Paysach Krohn spoke on hashgocha pratis, kiruv, tefillah and achdus.

Mordy Mehlman, publisher of the FJJ, joined the Shabbos morning tefillos at BJX. “I was extremely impressed by the BJX operation and mesmerized by the palpable sense of excitement for yiddishkeit on the faces and in the hearts of Rabbi Yitzchok and Rabbi Moshe Fingerer. The impact on those they have inspired to return to living authentic Jewish lives was obvious,” shared Mr. Mehlman.

Seth, a young professional, who joined said, “I have personally attended a number of Shabbatons. This one with BJX, was something special and unique. This Shabbos positively impacted me unlike any other Shabbos I’ve had.”

No one will forget the electrifying charge Rav Yitzchok Fingerer delivered Friday night, propelling all of us to “unify, care and be responsible for one another.” He ignited us to tap into the passion and fervor of Avrohom Avinu. Rabbi Paysach Krohn’s uplifting speech awoke our pintele Yid and taught us the urgency of reaching out to acheinu benei Yisroel and warned us be on guard against the ravages of assimilation. Both Rabbonim captivated the packed audience with their dynamism, wisdom and humor.

“It was a big zchus and my greatest pleasure to join this Shabbos”, shared renowned singer, Yehuda Green. “The BJX Shabbos Project was extraordinary. I participated in each speech and program- every time it was full to capacity with every type of Jew represented. The BJX Shabbos Project was truly unique,” said Mordechai Jaffa.

Many community members invited unaffiliated colleagues, co-workers and neighbors to join them for a Shabbos meal and to join the Shabbos Project. Four years ago, Reb Dave Roth, a Flatbush resident, was driving back from a wedding when his car mirror was suddenly knocked off by the car of an unaffiliated Jew. Dave befriended him and took him out for lunch. Over the years, Dave stayed in touch with him. Each year, Dave sent him Matzos before Pesach. This year, Dave convinced this fellow to join him for the Flatbush Shabbos Project. “This Shabbos was beyond our expectations. Thank you for such an incredible experience,” said Mr. Roth.

Persistence, love and patience was Dave’s magical formula for reaching out to a fellow Jew and connecting him with his birthright.

On Shabbos afternoon, there was a community-wide shiur with Rabbi Paysach Krohn, followed by a gala Shalosh Seudos at the Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin which again had an overflow attendance. Rabbi Moshe Fingerer, Menahel of BJX, shared a powerful thought from the Vilna Goan how Avroham performed each Mitzvah with the intention of making the world a better place. “The goal of the Flatbush Shabbos Project is to unify Brooklyn via ahavas Yisroel and the sanctity of Shabbos,” said Rabbi Moshe Fingerer. Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff spoke passionately about achdus and ahavas Yisroel.

“I experienced Shabbatons around the world. Yet I’ve never experienced a Shabbat like this one. BJX is the most inspiring Jewish environment!” said Brian Gold. Mark, a young professional had many in tears as he spoke during Havdalah about his journey back. He was born in Brooklyn, and raised in Flatbush, on Avenue M. “I thank Rabbis Fingerer and BJX from bringing meaning and light into my life,” he said.

This was one of the most uplifting and spiritual experiences I’ve ever had,” shared David, a young professional, who finally had his Bar Mitzvah this Shabbos.

“I was never inside the sacred shul of BJX. From the moment I walked inside, I felt this warm, loving, comfortable, welcoming feeling overcome me. The ambience and aura of BJX is a feeling of love, unity, togetherness, and that you’re important! Rabbis Fingerer permeated and shined with true ahavas yisroel to every single person that was inside the shul. They greeted each person warmly with no judgment. They saw each person as a Yid with a holy soul. I was completely blown away by the beautiful shabbos that my family and I experienced. Thank you BJX for teaching me what it means to have true Ahavas Yisroel and for shifting my mindset in such a profound way,” said Mrs. Leah Zanziper.

“It was an honor and inspiration to spend the Shabbos Project with BJX in Flatbush. The energetic enthusiasm of both Rabbi Yitzchok and Rabbi Moshe Fingerer is contagious. There is a warmth that is felt in BJX by everyone who comes to daven there or listen to a drasha”, said Rabbi Paysach Krohn.

“I just wanted to share my gratitude to everyone for this event. I met absolutely lovely people, and for the first time I felt part of the Jewish community. Everyone was so warm, smart and welcoming,” said Emily from Bushwick.

More than a thousand Jews from all walks of life, ranging from yidden with Brisker Payos and Streimels to secular Jews who never kept Shabbos or stepped foot into a shul, participated. It is everyone’s hope that the crowds of Jews united in achdus and ahavas Yisroel should herald the coming of Moshiach.