Outreach group’s thriving one-day-a-week Hebrew school splitting a L.I. community
fighting to hold onto Jews.
Rarely has a single day — one day less of Hebrew school instruction a week, to be exact — so polarized a Jewish community. But in the desperate fight for Jewish souls playing out in the Long Island town of Oceanside, Chabad of Oceanside’s one-day-a-week Hebrew school, now in its 10th year and drawing a big crowd of students, is tearing the community apart, the town’s leaders suggest.
A Minneapolis newspaper a few decades ago told about a baseball fan whose love for the sport had limits: a time limit. He would attend a Twins game, sometimes with his son, and leave after two hours whether or not the game was over and regardless of the score.
A baseball game, this fan reasoned, should last 120 minutes. If the games were getting longer, a continuing phenomenon today, that was not his problem.
Now Steve Rosenberg is no sports fan ("I never watch games," he says) but he has imposed a similar limit. His arena: Saturday mornings in synagogue.
Are you familiar with the Haggadah commentary of Rabbi Benjamin David Rabinowitz, an 18th-century scholar in Warsaw? Or of Rabbi Ya’akov Lorberbaum, a Polish rosh yeshiva in the late 1700s and early 1800s? Or of Rabbi David Dov Meisels, a chasidic rebbe in Poland 150 years ago?
Probably not. Unless you are a member of the Oceanside Jewish Center.