Traffic Jam On the BQE: Yidden Stuck As Shabbos Arrived


bqeYosef Feffer of Etrog News reports: The trip from Williamsburg to Boro Park is usually a very short one. It takes no longer than twenty minutes to commute between the two frum centers in New York by car. Last Friday, hundreds of families got ready for the short trip from Boro Park to Williamsburg in order to spend Shabbos with family and friends.The BQE highway is the only road that connects the two neighborhoods. On Friday, at approximately 2 o’clock in the afternoon, an accident occurred on the highway near Bedford Avenue. The accident involved a crane truck which crashed into the overpass that crosses the highway, causing the truck to turn over. The truck blocked all three lanes, which in turn brought the traffic to a halt.

The main ‘victims’ were the frum passengers who were on their way to Williamsburg for Shabbos. Those who were at the beginning of their journey immediately turned around and returned to Boro Park. The others were stuck with no way out.

All roads adjacent to the BQE were blocked by vehicles that were barely moving. Shabbos was approaching. The Etrog reporter, who was also stuck in the horrific traffic jam, phoned his rov for guidance a mere few minutes before the onset of Shabbos. The rov instructed him to stay in the car as the driver was a non-Jew, and get off the car in Willamsburg only after the driver would open the car doors. The reporter arrived in Williamsburg half an hour after the onset of Shabbos.

On his way, the reporter saw dozens of frum families walking down the road on foot, as they were driving their car by themselves and could not rely on a non-Jew to drive for them. For some it took over two hours, and for others it was impossible, as they had little children with them. Some of them took a taxi with a non-Jewish driver who drove them into Williamsburg.

Among those who were forced to walk to the neighborhood were a chosson and kallah on their way to their Shabbos sheva berachos in Williamsburg.

Several dozens of Pshevorsker Chassidim were on their way to their Rebbe in Williamsburg, and walked for over two hours. They arrived in Willaimsburg right in time for the tish.

{Etrog/ Newscenter}


  1. Maybe one should look into the ‘shilchon oorich’ before setting out on a trip on ‘Erev Shabos Koidesh’ (even a short trip). One should NOT leave after ‘CHATZOS HAYOM’.
    I know that this ‘Ha’loocha’ is mostly ignored, but when one gets stuck, or hears about others getting stuck its time to reconsider your habits and go back to the ‘Shilchon Oorich’.

  2. In Eretz Yisroel , the Rabbonim Paskened that you should give yourself double the amount of time that it takes to travel to yor destination

  3. I rarely take the highway to Williamsburg. it is totally unpredictable. The streets are a great way to go. Try Vanderbilt Ave to Flushing . Takes approx 30 min – GUARANTEED !! Its best to have a GPS. For $120 its a great investment that will pay itself off 100’s of times over.

  4. A similar thing happened to me. At that time, I lived in Lakewood and had scheduled some medical work at an office near Monsey for early Erev Shabbos afternoon. In hindsight, especially now with the above correct comments of Mr. or Mrs. “l’maan ha’shabbos” and Mr. or Mrs. “Anonymous,” that probably was NOT a good idea.

    Several problems delayed my leaving Lakewood; upon thus arriving late for the appointment, more bizarre interferences happened, and the doctor was not able to complete the procedure.

    After leaving the office and getting on the Garden State Parkway, I was forced to stop at a rest area.

    All of this though by itself would not have interferred with Shabbos, as this was in the middle of the summer — Chodesh Av Bein Hazmanim, when Sh’kiya is very late.

    Proceeding further down the Parkway though, for as far as the eye could see, the southbound traffic was clogged up like a parking lot! It did move, but extremely slowly, probably not more than 5 MPH. Finally — it must have been over two hours of this barely moving driving — I reached the exit for US Highway #9. On the #9, the traffic was OK and I was thus able to move at full speed.

    By now though, it was only about 15 minutes before Shabbos. I made it down the #9 about halfway to Lakewood, when it was already about 3 minutes to Sh’kiya. So I parked the car in the parking lot of a professional office building and proceeded to walk down the #9.

    The day had been a perfectly clear one, but now after dark, a heavy rain started. After about two hours of this walking, the issue was not about getting tired, but, evidently from walking so long in the middle of a major highway and thus breathing the huge amount of car exhaust, I had a very severe headache!

    Boruch HaShem though, at that time, I realized that I was at the intersection of Adelphia Road. So I walked up the side road (and almost immediately, my headache went away). Upon reaching the Adelphia Yeshiva, I went to a house which had a light on and was warmly welcomed in. I told them what had happened; they remarked that it was a good thing that I had not tried to walk on to Lakewood, for that would have been a further walk of another good three hours!

    I immediately recognized one of the men there from BMG and now realized that he was a son-in-law of the rosh yeshiva, Rav Yerucham Shain, Sh’lita. They gave me a change of dry clothes and plenty of food. There was another guest there who had also been caught in that heavy traffic back-up on the Parkway, but Boruch HaShem, HAD made it to Adelphia before Shabbos. After Shabbos, they took me over to where I had left my car on the #9.

  5. Once upon a time (in Europe even less than a hundred years ago)many kehilos kept Rabbeinu Tam z’manim even to do melacha on Friday after the first shkiya. For those not familiar, Rabbeinu Tam’s shkiya is 58 1/2 min. after the first shkiya. Nowadays, most who keep Rabbeinu Tam are machmir rgarding shabbos (sofek d’araisa lechumra) and refrain from melacha after the first shekiya or not beyond 8-9 min. after. Since tefilah is derabbonan and sofek derabbonan lekulah, they rely on Rabbeinu Tam for davening mincha well after the first shkiyah. In a situation like traveling where they may be risks on foot especially with younger children or in bad neighborhoods, one should consult their rav about relying on Rabbeinu Tam. If you’re told you can, also be aware that you should be holding Rabbeinu Tam for Motzei Shabbos as well – 72. min after the first shekiya.