Clock Change Leads to Torah Revolution in Crown Heights

Photos: David Katash/

When two Crown Heights residents woke up early after not changing the clocks, they sat down to learn Chassidus together. They never imagined the long-term effect it would have.

By reporter

When Reb Moshe Katzman and Reb Aryeh Leib Fuss met in the Rayim Ahuvim shul one morning, an hour early, they decided to maximize the extra hour by opening a Sefer and learning some Chassidus before davening. It snowballed into a revolution of Torah learning that affected the entire community.

“When I moved into my house near Rayim Ahuvim, the shul offered a single shacharis minyan each day, and then was shut and locked until the next day,” Reb Moshe Katzman recalled in a conversation with “So it continued until that one morning when I forgot to change my clock after daylight savings time ended.”

That was the morning when he met Reb Aryeh Leib, and the two sat down with a Sefer Chassidus. When the rest of the people arrived and the minyan commenced, they were inspired by how different their davening was and decided to make the hour of Chassidus before davening a daily ritual.

Others soon began to join them, and before long, a full shiur was established and Chassidus before davening became a regular part of the Shul’s schedule.

The Mishna is Avos states “mitzvah goreres mitzvah,” and in this case, it was seen very soon. The one shiur led to a second and a third, the shiurim led to mincha and ma’ariv minyonim, and very soon, the Shul became an address for individuals and chavrusas to meet up and spend time immersed in their learning.

The shul and shiurim kept on growing and growing, until they outgrew the space of the shul. The need soon became apparent for a designated Haichal Limmud and thus, when the apartment above the shul became available, Reb Moshe Katzman, along with other members of the shul, decided to create a space to serve as a proper beis medrash.

The new beis medrash, named Beis Hillel, was being dedicated in memory of Reb Hillel Katzman, a beloved member of the Anash community who devoted his entire life to learning and was always seen with a sefer in his hands. The beis medrash was also dedicated in memory of his great-grandson Hillel, who tragically passed away as an infant. 

After the space was transformed into a comfortable space for learning, and a library was stocked, a dedication was held for the beis medrash recently.

Harav Yosef Braun spoke of the importance of having a new Bais Medrash for the Crown Height community and how hopefully other shuls will emulate, and how the neighborhood can use another 12-20 batei medrash for yungeleit and bochurim to sit and learn.

Rabbi Michoel Seligson spoke about the name of the new Bais Medrash ‘Bais Hillel’ and repeated the Rebbe’s call in 5747 that all shuls should be open at night so people can come and learn in the evenings.

Rabbi Motti Lipskier, a member of the shul who lives in the area, spoke about the effects the new Bais Medrash is having on the local community.

Lastly, Reb Moshe Katzman, who spearheaded the campaign and raised the funds for the renovations spoke about the project and related how it came to be.

The new beis medrash is now open at 1614 Carroll St, ready for anyone who wishes to sit and learn in a comfortable atmosphere. Come, open a sefer, and learn!

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