Men, women and children numbering in the hundreds assembled this past Lag B'omer to give honor to the Torah. They participated in the joyous celebration of a siyum Sefer Torah, sponsored by the Mispallim of Bais Menachem Lubavitch of Boro Park.
Bais Menachem, founded over eight years ago, is today a vibrant Kehilla of close to a hundred families, K”Y. Just over two years ago they purchased the Belzer Shul at 4814 16 Ave. and established themselves at the crossroads of the community. In its new home, the Shul has developed into a Mokom Torah, Tefilla, and Gemillas Chasadim and under the able leadership of Harav Leibel Altein noted author of Chasidus Mevueres, continues to invigorate and stimulate all that enter.
To alleviate the large burden of debt remaining from the purchase of the new building, a major campaign was undertaken. An enormously positive response from sponsors, members as well as friends and supporters of the Kehilla, assured that a significant sum would remain after paying for the Sefer Tora in order to minimize the outstanding debt. This campaign enabled the establishment of the new Shul, and additionally, allowed the donors to fulfill the Lubavitcher Rebbe's directive for all Jews to participate in the writing of a Sefer Torah. It must be said that with the active participation of many, and in particular due to the tireless work of R' Moshe Silver and R' Mechel Karczag, the effort, B"H, met with major success.
The final letters of the Sefer Torah were completed at the home of the noted Askan, R’ Yaakov Yechiel Strasser, who sponsored the day's festivities Le’iylu Nishmas his father, Harav Chaim Yehuda Strasser, Z"L. Harav Strasser Z"L a direct descendent of the Chasam Sofer ZT”l was for many years the Rav of the Ksav Sofer Shul in Crown Heights and served as the Menahal of the Viener Yeshiva and Yeshivas Chasan Sofer, he is remembered by many of his talmidim for his warm smile and kind words, encouraging them in the way of Torah. Living in Crown Heights his son R’ Yankel spent much time in and around Lubavitch world headquarters at 770, and has been closely connected to Chabad and a supporter of the Rebbe's activities for many years.
The Tahalucho then commenced, a beautiful rolling Chupah, bedecked with flowers, accompanied by Kehilla members, families, and guests. The large group set out flanked by a mass of children, dressed in Shabbos attire. The older children carried aloft fiery torches while the younger children waved colorful flags. The moving scene progressed through the streets of Boro Park, the crowd swelling as it moved towards its destination. As they made their way down 17th Avenue and then down 48th Street, the intensity and emotion continued to increase, as everyone became caught up in the emotion and fervor of the special feeling of Simcha of watching the hachnosa of a new Sefer Torah.
Adding to the spirit of the occasion, a musician performed spirited Chabad and Lag B’omer nigunim as young and old alike accompanied the music with singing and dancing. As is the minhag, all received the honor of carrying the Sefer Torah as the crowd made its way towards the Shul.
: Harav Shlomo Gross, Belzer Dayan; Harav Menashe Klein, Ungvar Rav; Nadvoner Rebbe Rav Shlomo Leifer; Mader Rav; Harav Yosef Weinberg, author of Shiurim BeSefer HaTanya; Harav Gavriel Tzinner; Harav Binyomin Wulliger; Harav Yisroel Eichler, Boyaner Rav; Harav Chaim Leib Katz, Sederheli Rav; Harav Yakov Rubin, Bristovitzer Rav; Harav Yehudah Krinski of the Secretariat of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; Harav Avraham Rosenfeld, Rav of the Tzemech Tzedek Shul of Boro Park; the noted Mashpia Harav Yoel Kahan; Roshei Yeshiva and Mashpiam of Yeshiva Oholei Torah, Harav Avraham Garlitzky, Harav Ephraim Pikarski, Harav Yisroel Friedman; Harav Sholom Charitonov; Harav Levi Gorelik, of the Rabbinical Board of the OK Laboratories; Harav Tzodek Shaingarten; Harav Avraham Sheiner.
As the procession turned onto 16th Avenue and approached the Shul, the emotion reached a crescendo. All the Sifrei Torah were removed from the Aron Kodesh and brought out into the street, as Sixteenth Avenue was cordoned off in order to greet and be M'kabel Ponim the new Sefer. The huge crowd, now filling the Avenue from 48th to 49th Streets, began dancing around the Sifrei Torah. All traffic came to a halt as all present danced with unabashed fire and passion, revealing their innate love of Torah and Hashem. A truly great Kiddush Sheim Shamayim was manifested.
The honor of carrying the Sefer Torah into the Shul for the first time was reserved for R’ Aryeh Friedman. The Friedman family from Italy made this contribution Leiluy Nishmas their father R’ Sholom Dober Ben Harav Yeshaia Z’l. R’ Sholom Dober Friedman was a renowned Lubavitch Chossid, a Holocaust survivor and a partisan he settled in Italy in 1965. He quickly became a pioneer of Tzedaka and Chesed worldwide During the Seudas Mitzvah, R’ Aryeh spoke of his father’s unrivaled Hachnosos Orchim, extending to anyone and everyone in need. He also recounted tales of tremendous Mesiras Nefesh in building Mikvoas and Mosdos Hakoidesh in the years following the war.
Once inside, the mood, once festive, turned exuberant as the hakofos began. The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, in one of his letters, details the manner in which a proper Hachnosos Sefer Torah should be conducted. In addition to stressing the need for maximum publicity and the participation of all those living in the surrounding neighborhood, he states that, Hakofos, with the accompanying full ceremony should follow, adding an eighth hakafoh in order to differentiate between these hakofos and regular hakofos on Simchas Torah. In keeping with this minhag, the Gabboim began honoring various dignitaries and attendees with Atoh Horesa. Upon its conclusion, the dancing and hakofos began and lasted for well over an hour.
With Hakofos concluded, the assembled made their way down the block to the Seudas Mitzvah held at the Kahal Chasidim hall. During the meal, R’ Leibel Altein, Mashpia and Manhig Ruchni of the Kehilla, spoke of the imperative to translate the outpouring of Simcha into practical action, that being the increase in Shiruim of Torah, both Nigleh and Chassidus. Harav Hagoan Rav Yitzchok Reitport, eminent Morah Horoah and author of Bidvar Melech and Toras Yitzchok, echoed that sentiment. He remarked that there is a Halacha that one may sell a Sefer Torah in order to raise funds for Limud HaTorah. He concluded that it is clear that the effect of a joyous day such as this must be the strengthening of Limud HaTorah.
As the Seuda drew to a close, the Kehilla could reflect on the true import of the events that had transpired. The day marked the culmination of thousands of man hours of work to bring this dream of a permanent home for this Chabad Kehilla in Boro Park to fruition. And the memories of experiencing the Simcha Shel Mitzvah of writing and dedicating this Sefer Torah would be deeply engraved on all those that participated and remain with them forever.