A congregant in Rabbi David Hirsch’s synagogue approached him with a request one recent Shabbat after shacharit services: She wanted a new prayerbook, one with more-extensive commentaries.
Rabbi Hirsch, spiritual leader of the Fleetwood Synagogue in Mount Vernon for four years, was delighted. The veteran member of the congregation was part of the new Fleetwood Kollel, the first community kollel of its kind in Westchester.
At least it felt that way. After growing up in an area of Bensonhurst with a bare-bones Jewish community, where my brother and I sometimes faced anti-Semitism on the streets and the idea of a kosher restaurant seemed like something out of a dream, I found myself at age 12 in Midwood, the most Jewish part of Flatbush.