I regret that I was not able to join you on Sunday night for the comedy performance or help out with schlepping for the Men’s Shelter brunch Monday morning. I went to New Jersey to visit my brother over the long weekend.
On Monday we did not participate in the usual “Jewish Christmas” tradition of Chinese food and a movie. Instead, we drove into Brooklyn to revisit the neighborhood where we lived as young children and then do some shopping and sightseeing in Chasidic Brooklyn, which of course was open on that day. I was eight years old when we moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey so I do have some childhood memories of the neighborhood, but my brother was only three and a half so has far fewer.
It was interesting to note that the block on which we lived -- East 7th Street between Church and Caton Aves. in Kensington -- and the surrounding area is now almost entirely Bangladeshi. When we lived there it was mostly Jewish (of all different degrees of observance) and Irish and Italian Catholic.
Thirteenth Ave. in Boro Park was the main shopping thoroughfare of the area and I remember being taken there by my mom to do some shopping. We would usually stop for a slice of pizza or a frankfurter in a deli (which was probably kosher but not glatt kosher) or go to a bakery for a Charlotte Russe (a now nearly-extinct New York bakery delight which consisted of a layer of whipped cream and a cherry on top of a disc of sponge cake). Today 13th Ave. is still a major shopping street but it is entirely Chasidic with most stores having signs in Yiddish -- sometimes exclusively and sometimes in addition to English. Then we drove over to South Williamsburg to pick up some sandwiches from Gottlieb’s Deli, a Satmar Chasidic restaurant open since 1962 where nothing has changed except the menu prices although it remains extremely inexpensive for a New York kosher deli. All in all it was a fun and nostalgic day and I was glad of the opportunity to spend some time with my brother.
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at email@example.com or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian