Chief Rabbi Of An Amusement Park

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coney-islandBy Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

The joyous days of Chol HaMoed Sukkos are always in autumn, usually a time of temperate weather. Chol HaMoed Sukkos is a great time to take the kids to amusement parks. Riding merry-go-rounds and roller coasters are exuberantly enjoyed by children of all ages. The experience is memorable for every child lucky enough to have his father, mother, or relative, bring him or her to an amusement park.

Adventurers Amusement Park at 1824 Shore Parkway, off of Bay Parkway and only minutes away from Boro Park, Bensonhurst, Flatbush, and Staten Island, is a perfect setting. Formerly and more popularly know as the “Nellie Bly” Amusement Park, it was renovated and renamed Adventurers Family Entertainment Center in 2007 by the gracious Romano family. It has more than 30 rides and attractions, many of which are kiddie rides for very young children. Other attractions include bumper cars and a miniature golf course. Admission to Adventurers Family Entertainment Center is free. Rides are modestly priced on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Just days before Yom Tov, I was asked to officiate as the “host rav” of the amusement park for Chol HaMoed. As I used to take my own children to Nellie Bly many times when they were young, and presently have grandchildren the perfect age for a thrilling amusement park experience, I readily agreed. Early on Sunday, the first day of Chol HaMoed, I arrived to inspect my “rabbinate.” The huge sukkah there was, indeed, impressive. Not being certain as to who built it, I immediately lifted and ever so slightly moved the schach to ensure that the sukkah was kosher for the many who were expected to come and enjoy it.

Hot pizza and knishes were freshly prepared by the renown Amnon’s Pizza Store of 13th Avenue in Boro Park. Amnon’s carries the kosher certificate of Khal Adas Jeshurun (KAJ), is marketed nationally, and is delicious. Popcorn and cotton candy, loved by children, was continuously prepared by Candyland of 16th Avenue, under the kashrus certification of the Hisachdus Horabbonim (CRC). Food services were handled by Naty Schlossberg of Manhattan Beach and his professional staff. As the officiating chief rabbi of the amusement park, I made sure that all of the food equipment was properly turned on and operating in full accordance with halacha. Additional packaged kosher snacks were available in abundance.

As more and more families entered the park, I was gratified that the rides all seemed brand new and that they were operating flawlessly, like precise Swiss watches. This, in spite of some of the rides being more than 40 years old; Nellie Bly opened in 1966. The entire park has been reorganized, refurbished, and ideal for families. During Sukkos, chassidish and yeshivish music played in the park.

Immediately, children raced from ride to ride, trailed by their parents. The amusement park’s staff was exemplarily courteous and considerate. In addition, a good number of staff members were devoted to collecting trash, keeping the amusement park, its grounds, the rides, and the rest rooms spotless. It’s impossible to figure out how many pictures must have been taken each day. Parents worked hard to capture their children’s joy on camera. As families entered, those parents, who themselves were brought to Nellie Bly as children, had huge smiles on their faces.

As their amusement “work” continued, the children and their parents grew hungry. The fathers eyed the sukkah and asked about it. I was glad to share halachic applications, measurements, practice, and sukkah history. Then the questions about the food came. Out-of-towners asked about the kosher certifications, about pareve status, chalav Yisrael, kemach yashan, and pas Yisrael. Those families that brought along sandwiches from home supplemented their menu, at the urging of their “ravenously hungry” children, with pizza, knishes, calzones, and French fries. Desert generally consisted of cotton candy, chocolate bars, baked snacks, potato chips, ice cream, and lollypops.

When their questions about the sukkah and the foods were satisfactorily answered, the questions of shkiah and Daf Yomi arose. Interestingly, more than one father brought along his Gemara. Of course, chassidishe politics was also a frequent and sometimes hot topic of conversation.

Interestingly, on Wednesday, Hoshanah Rabbah, many families came as well. Fathers brought their children giving the mothers a chance to prepare for the upcoming three days of Yom Tov. If parents accompanied an entering family, I happily assumed that they were guests and that their respective shvigers had volunteered or been volunteered to make all of the preparations for Yom Tov. I was surprised that many of those families stayed late into the afternoon on that day. Perhaps, they were deliberately keeping the children outside of the busy kitchen until the very last possible minute.

All in all, the experience of being “chief rabbi” of an amusement park for Chol HaMoed was gratifying and rewarding. Children and adults, including my grandchildren and I, eagerly look forward to the next Chol HaMoed experience.

{Rabbi G Tannenbaum/}


  1. and you, grandyman, sound like a fool…why are you being so negative? can’t you just appreciate the beauty inherent in the article? Yidden enjoying themselves in a kosher way?

  2. “Of course, chassidishe politics was also a frequent and sometimes hot topic of conversation.”

    Was that also glatt kosher, under the hashgocho ofthe Chief Rabbbi?

  3. Sounds like a job every parent would want for Chol Hamoed. Where do I sign up ?
    I sure wish my grandfather had that job while I was growing up.
    Beautiful article.


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