Monsey Memories: Congregation Bnei Jeshurun Closes Final Chapter
By: Yitzy Fried
This week, demolition crews dismantled one of Monsey’s iconic Shuls, Congregation Bnei Jeshurun, closing the final chapter in the half a century of its glorious existence. For decades, some of Monsey’s finest families made their way to the little shul on Park Lane, but now it is no longer (proceeds sale of the property is being meticulously allocated to building a shul in Eretz Yisroel).
Rabbi Yisroel Flam was the legendary dean of Yeshiva of Spring Valley, and served as the longtime rov of the shul—despite the forty five minute walk from his home. His children grew up among its pews, and now they bid farewell to the place that is part of the fabric of their lives. Following is a tribute by Rabbi Avrohom Flam, a son of the legendary Rov, Rav Yisroel Flam, zt”l:
I arrive at Park Lane for my final farewell. The once proud building is now overgrown, broken down, bent over in agony, waiting for the final blow. Once the pride of the newly-formed Monsey kehilla , Bnai Jeshurun was one of the building blocks that formed the foundation of what is now known as the ihr v’eim b’Yisroel of “Monsey”.
The shul was a focal point of our family during our formative years.
The door creaks open and I make my way into the main sanctuary. It is cold, dark and in complete disarray. It looks like the pictures of shuls portrayed after a pogrom. I close my eyes… the lights go on and suddenly the shul is brightly lit.
The shul is all white. All the men are in kittles. The sifrei Torah adorned in their white Yom Kippur mantels.
The Rabbi, with the visage of a malach, begins kol nidrei… The kehilla surrounds the bimah The scene is surreal. I turn around and I see the Rebbetzin with her head bowed in deep humility and heartfelt prayer—pleading with Hashem for a good year for her family, for her community, for all of Klal Yisroel.
I can see the Rabbi at the amud. He is singing emes mah nehedar… surrounded by his adoring constituents. The excitement is palpable. It is the shouts and the joy of a warrior returning victorious from battle; of the triumphant advocate who has earned another year of life for his worthy clients.
The scene changes and I can hear Rabbi Flam laining the megillah. With his emotional rendition, we are transported through the journey of the Yidden in Shushan, centuries ago.
I know it was real .
Because I was there
The scene changes to Simchas Torah. Young and old, learned and less-learned, all rejoicing over our special connection with Hashem and His Torah.
The lights begin to dim and the darkness seeps back again through the holes in the broken and shattered walls.
My eyes flutter open. I am back in an old crumbling room. Waves of memories and feelings wash over me. For one fleeting moment I am a little boy again. I am little Avromy taking it all in with a large inquisitive heart, mind and eyes.
I look around. I am here but where is the shul?
It has become me. I now carry the shul wherever I go.
In the place of the wood and stones I will build a beis Hamikdosh in my heart from all the memories.
Our beloved shul will live on forever. In our hearts and in the hearts of all its beloved members.