By Dov Levy
Chesed all year round. That is the hallmark of Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, Niklesburg Rebbe of Boro Park. Whether in his position for the past 35 years as Pre-1A/Aleph-Bais rebbe at the Talmud Torah of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in the morning or his incredible work with individuals from all walks of Yidishkeit in his beis medrash- the “Jungreis Chesed Center” – at 16th Avenue and 49th Street in the afternoon, the Rebbe is truly a living example of Avraham Avinu.
While we sit back complacently, enjoying the pleasant warmth of our homes during these frigid winter months, the Rebbe’s compassionate heart is already concerned about the coming summer season.
In 2010 the Rebbe reopened the historic Woodbourne Shul for the public, 10 years after its doors were closed. Standing in front of the shul with a cardboard sign that read “Minyanim Going On Now!” and greeting passing motorists, the Rebbe ignored the incredulous stares. To those who mocked his efforts the Rebbe calmly replied, “You can laugh; I’m going on.”
That first season saw 20,000 people stop by the shul to daven and enjoy the refreshments the Rebbe offered to all comers, free of charge. Since then the numbers have gone steadily up. During the past summer season a staggering 80,000 people passed through the shul. 30 to 40 chiyuvim relied on finding the amud daily at the Woodbourne Shul.
The Rebbe recognized that the shul is not just a place to daven. It is a central gathering place for people to take a break while traveling, find a rest room and refresh themselves. It is a place people turn to for chizuk, be it from the Rebbe himself or one of the many speakers who delivered shiurim there regularly throughout the summer. By providing for their physical needs the Rebbe ensured that everyone who passed through the Woodbourne Shul would leave spiritually refreshed as well.
But there is a price for all this work. The shul is now 96 years old and it is showing signs of aging. In addition, the building was never designed for the absurd volume of traffic it now sees. This past summer the floors began to sink and eight beams gave way. Urgent repair work is needed to make sure the shul will be fit to serve the public again for its fifth season this coming summer. The floor must be entirely replaced and the restrooms refurbished to accommodate the long lines of travelers who rely on them. Estimates for the cost of this pressing work run upwards of $50,000.
The Rebbe repeatedly reminds visitors to the Woodbourne Shul that this is not his shul. The building does not bear the name “Niklesburg.” It is Klal Yisroel’s Shul, as evidenced by the proud name it inherited, Khal Bnai Yisroel. Whether you are one of the tens of thousands who enjoyed the shul’s services during recent summers or not, it is our collective responsibility to preserve this shul for the benefit of all.
As the Rebbe constantly points out, while the financial world sees ups and downs “at the Woodbourne Shul the stocks are only rising.” Turnout has grown consistently and the daily acts of chesed keep mounting at a rapid clip. We cannot allow that pace to slow down due of lack of funding.
The Niklesburg Rebbe has never held a dinner or Melava Malka to defray the high costs of his chesed programs. He does not do active fundraising, instead relying solely on the generous donations of understanding individuals who wish to have a share in his remarkable work.
Now, with large sums desperately needed immediately to cover the repairs of the Woodbourne Shul, it is up to us to step forward and become partners in the Rebbe’s undertaking, a true prototype of the Aishel of Avraham Avinu. Your donation will earn you a share in the incredible volume of Tefilah, Torah and chesed that go on in this building each summer.
Please help the Rebbe prepare the Woodbourne Shul – Klal Yisrael’s Shul – in time for the summer. Dedication opportunities are available for the kitchen, the restrooms and more.
All donations are tax deductible.
Checks can be made out to Cong Niklesburg and mailed to:
1607 49th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11204
To donate by credit card or for any other matter please call the Rebbe directly at: 646-256-4049.