Rabbi Mendel and Brochy Mann were appointed as the shluchim to Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, one of four new shluchim appointed under the auspices of Tzach.
Rabbi Mendel and Brochy (nee Rodal) Mann were appointed as the shluchim to Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, one of four new shluchim appointed under the auspices of Tzach.
Gerritsen Beach is a small neighborhood that runs off Marine Park and is surrounded by water. Originally a small army base, it eventually became a predominantly White Irish community that, for many years, was unwelcoming to Jews. However, in the past two decades, more and more Jewish families have moved in, and it became evident that a Chabad presence was needed to unite and strengthen the Jewish community.
The new shluchim’s first major event was this past Chanukah, when they decided to take to the streets for an outdoor public Menorah lighting. “When we presented this idea to the community, we received mixed responses. Some were excited about the first-ever Jewish presence, while others were more skeptical. For example, Moshe (Mark) A., who grew up in Gerritsen, recalled that as a teenager, it wasn’t safe for a Jewish boy to go to the Gerritsen theater at night, was concerned about public Jewish presence,” Rabbi Mann told Anash.org.
“92-year-old Ms. V. Weiser, suggested that maybe I should look elsewhere for starting a Jewish community. However, Boruch Hashem, we went ahead with it and we had over 50 participants. People were stopping their cars in the middle of driving to see the menorah and to listen to the live music, and it has become clear that the 100+ young Jewish families of Gerritsen Beach need a Chabad House and community center,” he said.
This past Yom Kippur was a rainy one for Brooklyn, but that didn’t stop the Manns from walking almost two and a half hours from Crown Heights to Gerritsen. As they were walking to the place that we arranged for the minyan, they noticed a young couple walking towards them. It turned out that they were a Jewish couple who were shocked to learn that there would be a Yom Kippur service they could attend. What was even more incredible was that, following their tradition of auctioning off Maftir Yona for the greatest commitment to a Mitzvah, it was acquired by Ashley and Lishai, the family we met on our way to the synagogue. Ashley, the wife, later told the Manns that her mother grew up in Gerritsen and was overwhelmed with excitement when she heard about the Jewish presence in the neighborhood—a dream she thought would never come true.
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