Monsey Memories: Beginning of Congregation Bais Tefilla

Monsey Memories: Beginning of Congregation Bais Tefilla

Yitzy Fried

Bais Tefillah is a legendary place for both Torah and tefillah in Monsey today, firmly rooted in the traditions of Ashkenaz. Today we take a look back at the early days of the kehillah as gleaned from a journal published thirty years ago—which took a look back thirty years earlier to the founding of Bais Tefillah in a basement on Blauvelt Road.

“There was at first no Nusach Ashkenaz minyan ‘down the hill.’ Mr. Herman Adler, of Blauvelt Road, graciously made his basement available, and so began in 5721 (late 1960) what was thereafter to become Beth Tefillah of Monsey, Inc.

“From the start, it was apparent that this solution was only an interim one, and already for the Yamim Noraim and Yomim Tovim in ’61 and ’62, larger quarters were rented. In 1961, Mr. Michael Levi and his family moved to Monsey, and soon thereafter, a search for a more permanent place began in earnest.

“The first step was to form an organization. A name was chosen—one which succinctly described the shul’s purpose—and a request for incorporation was submitted to the County of Rockland. On 27 Iyar 5722 (1962), Beth Tefillah was officially formed. Its principal objective was “to establish and maintain a congregation synagogue for the purpose of conducting Jewish worship in conformity with the Orthodox Jewish law, in any building or hall which said the congregation will either rent, hire, lease, or hereafter construct and build.

“From the start of the minyan, Rabbi Zev Wolff, father of Mrs. Herman Adler. Who had acquired the esteemed title of ‘chaver’ in Europe, was the posek, and remained with the shul until his death in the summer of ’64. During the ten formative years of the kehillah, until ’76, Rav Yaakov Liphshutz served as the de facto rabbinical authority, delivering droshos, appeals, shiurim as required, and responding to questions posed by members.

“From the onset, the shul’s gabbai was Mr. Samuel Beer, who continued in that capacity until his passing in ’72.

This is but some of the early history of this legendary pillar of Torah and tefillah in Monsey. In next week’s edition of this column, we will write about the acquisition and construction of a permanent home for the shul.

To be continued… 

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