Rabbi Walks 9 Miles Each Shabbos

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Ellie Jacobs reports in the Jewish Chronicle:

Every Shabbos, Rabbi Zalmy Brackman makes a nine-mile round trip on foot from his Stamford Hill home to take the morning service at Leytonstone and Wanstead Synagogue, having responded to an SOS from the small East London congregation.

Desperate to save the Federation synagogue from closure, secretary and treasurer Ruth Solomons and other local Jews last year rang around contacts in an effort to find someone willing to officiate at services.

“We feared we wouldn’t even be able to hold a Rosh Hashanah service, Ms Solomons recalled.

Through Lubavitch, the shul was put in touch with Rabbi Brackman and for the past year, he has walked to and from the shul in all weathers.

“I do what needs doing,” he told the JC. “I was immediately drawn to the position. Part of the Lubavitch philosophy is that every Jew is a messenger of outreach for other Jews. Please God I’ll get to do it for a length of time.”

The 80 minute walk each way affords him thinking time. He also admires “the beautiful green fields next to the water”.

Only on Yom Kippur did Rabbi Brackman stay closer to the shul. He will do the same this year, either with a host family or at a local hotel.

He credits wife Chaia “for caring for our three kids while I spend most of Shabbat at the shul”.

The Shabbat service normally ends around one, after which Rabbi Brackman joins congregants for lunch before staring the long walk home, accompanied for much of the way by Ms Solomons and her partner.

Close on half the shul’s 40 members attend services and Rabbi Brackman is confident about the future.

“I think it’s going to grow. There are people that are moving out there because it’s cheaper, or they are finding North-West London a bit heavy.”

Ms Solomons pointed out that “at the beginning of last year, there was a minyan just once a month. Then it was twice and now it’s every week.”

8 COMMENTS

    • You most certainly don’t have to wonder about a Chabadnik not observing the Techum.
      Instead you can thank him for doing “the job we are all responsible to do”

    • I’m not familiar with the particular local topography, however as a general rule, “Techum Shabbos” only starts counting from the point where the “city” ends. If there is a continuity of buildings, then it is considered the same city.

  1. #1, easy for you to criticize under an anonymous name. But do you really think he didn’t address your concern? Are you familiar with the area at all?

  2. Surely you’re familiar with the known (unfortunate) joke (reality) where this fellow completes Meseches Eiruvin and declares: I worked it all out (not an easy Mesechta) except for 2 roshei teivos רה”י and רה”ר!
    Advisable for all (mainly the first commentor) who have an issue with Techum Shabbos to learn Meseches Eiruvin all over again – With the help of Artscroll you may just work it out.

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