Monsey Memories: Beis Yisroel of Monsey

Monsey Memories: Beis Yisroel of Monsey

BY: Yitzy Fried

It was Monsey of the 1940’s, when the only heimishe Yidden to inhabit the hamlet were the Beis Medrash Elyon bachurim and a handful of pioneers. And those pioneers needed a place to daven. In the beginning, they indeed davened alongside the bachurim of the yeshiva—but it soon became clear they needed a place of their own.

The minyan soon formed in one of the “kollel rooms” in the ancient manor-turned-yeshiva. Then they moved to one of the homes of the balebatim. Soon, they were invited by Mr. Sternfeld, owner of Monsey Garden Hotel, located at the corner of Main Street, to occupy one of the hotel rooms. The hotel would eventually be sold to Yeshiva Beis Shraga (named for the illustrious Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, in many ways the pioneers of Monsey). But the shul would be erected on the property belonging to the Sternfeld’s, and this is where it continues to stand to this day.

Beis Yisroel was not the only institution that they would have the zechus to build on this property. With time, Yeshiva Spring Valley, and the Viznitzer Cheder, would all be built here—each contributing to the development of the community in outsized ways.

The first rov of the shul, albeit in an unofficial capacity, was Rav Berel Greenbaum, menahel of Yeshiva Spring Valley

As we have noted in a previous column, for a short time, the shul was headed by the Veitzener Rov. Following this—between the years of 1970-2000—Rav Nosson Horowitz, zt”l, a Talmid of Beis Medrash Elyon, originally from Vienna, had a distinguished 30 tenure at the helm of the shul. During those glory years, Beis Yisroel was the most important Shul in Monsey. Shabbos, one could not find an empty seat. There was a weekday Shul downstairs, and a larger Shabbos shul upstairs, as many old shuls were built. During the week, Beis Yisroel was the ‘minyan factory’ of Monsey—with minyonim non-stop from early morning until 10:00 for Shachris, and the same for Mincha and maariv.

In the basement of the Shul still exists Monsey’s oldest mikvah—about which Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that, as the only mikvah in town, it is incumbent upon all residents to participate in its construction.

Although the pace and the volume may have slowed down as some of the older members have passed on, the shul continues to thrive in the center of Monsey, with daily minyonim and shiurim—under the leadership of Rav Dovid Margareten—a true testament to those early members who pioneered this shul in old Monsey.

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