Monsey Memories: Building Beth Tefilla
In last week’s edition of this column, we wrote about the beginnings of Beth Tefillah, the legendary Nusach Ashkenaz shul in Monsey. Today we return to the purchase of the buildings for the shul, and how it transpired, as we once again glean from the journal, written thirty years ago as a thirty-year retrospective.
“The first building: it was apparent from the start that, although the basement solution provided the impetus, it could only be temporary if there was to be any growth. In early ’63, a search was begun for an appropriate lot on which to construct a shul. By June of that year, land off Maplewood Lane was tentatively selected, and it was bought from Mr. Eli Halberg (of a prominent Monsey family).
“The minutes of a June meeting the plan the new construction shows that Chaim Friedberg, now residing in Yerushalayim, was present to offer technical advice. Mr. Friedberg served as the shaliach tzibbur on Yomim Nora’im until his departure from Monsey. The next hurdle was to get approval from the Ramapo zoning department for construction—which came through in July. In August, Congregation Beth Tefillah became the proud owner of Monsey real estate.
“Although generous donations were made towards the new shul, they were insufficient to cover the entire cost. The First National Bank of Spring Valley helped with the remainder.”
The first building lasted the shul through the 60’s and early 70’s—but the kehillah soon outgrew the small structure, and, in 1974 they began to plan an expansion.
A chanukas habayis for the expanded and renovated shul was held in 1980, and was addressed by Monsey resident Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky.
“It was really min hashomayim that the dark clouds, heavy rains and winds of the morning of June 8, 1980, made way for the sun to emerge and smile down on some 300 members, friends, and guests as they made their way from all over Monsey and a good number from Washington Heights (given that this was like a sister kehillah to the Yekkish kehillah in the heights) to the chanukas habayis celebration of the shul.”
Additional addresses were given by Rav Shimon Schwab of Khal Adas Jeshurun in Washington Heights, and by the marah d’asrah, Harav Shlomo Mordechai Breslauer.
Forty-three years have ensued since the inauguration of the expanded Beis Tefillah, and the kehillah has continued to be a center for Torah and tefillah, including a legendary afternoon Kollel headed by Rav Osher Dovid May, shlit”a—a true testament to those who have established this kehillah more than sixty years ago.