Gary Rosenblatt |
Editor and Publisher
Even as Modern Orthodox Jews see themselves as embattled and on the decline within Orthodoxy, eclipsed by the ascendancy of the haredim to the right, new demographic data offer quite a different picture.
Suddenly in Jewish Westchester, land of spacious homes and ample backyards, nothing seems to fit.
Westchesterís Jews, once limited by upper-crust restrictions, are experiencing a 40-percent population surge in the past 10 years, only to find that their infrastructure of schools and shuls now seems too small, tight around the seams.
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.
After 10 years of helping volunteers who made calls during UJA-Federation's annual Super Sunday event, Avery Goro, 15, of Oceanside, L.I., took to the phones himself last Sunday.
"I made about 50 calls and raised about $2,000," he said with obvious pride. "In one call, I got a $500 pledge. I was surprised and said, 'Thank you very much.'"
In the last six months, Temple Emanuel of Long Beach, L.I., opened its doors for a social adult day-care program for seniors with dementia. Seven seniors attend twice a week and the synagogue's spiritual leader, Rabbi Bennett Herman, described it as "probably the best example of group work activity I've ever seen."