The images are familiar: the elderly Chossid, wrapped in his Tallis, rocking back and forth as he digs to eradicate the last vestiges of some negative trait; the young man, pacing across the worn marble, trying to wrap his mind around a Kabbalistic concept from the Shiur; businessmen, setting aside the worries and travails of the week to gather strength from the mystical beauty of Shabbos.
This is Getzel’s Shul.
Among the oldest Shuls in Crown Heights, Getzel’s Shul has provided a place for generations of Chassidim to reflect and grow for nearly 40 years. It continues to attract new members.
“It is a place that young people bring their children to show them what an authentic Chassidishe Shul looks like,” Gabbai Zalman Goldstein says. “It is a place where people complain that the Shiur Chassidus isn’t long enough.”
Getzel’s Shul was started by Rabbi Avrohom Plotkin in the early 1980’s as a small Shul in his basement on President street between Brooklyn and New York. They were only a few members back then, but among them were a number of illustrious and significant attendees.
On Friday nights, Rabbi Yehuda Kalman Marlow would daven there, and deliver a Shiur on Hilchos Shabbos. Another regular member was R’ Sholom Ber Gansburg who, as a Ben Bayis of the Rebbe’s household, would often tell the Rebbetzin about his Minyan.
This fact led to an astounding moment when the Rebbe gave a bottle of wine for the Shul at Kos Shel Brocha. While the Rebbe would often give bottles for Chabad Houses or Shuls in other communities, this was the only local Shul to which the Rebbe gave wine.
Although the connection was never stated explicitly, it has been presumed that the Rebbetzin passed the positive reports she had received from R’ Sholom Ber Gansburg to the Rebbe.
From the beginning, it was clear that there was something special about this Shul. People would step in for the Shabbos farbrengen (on the weeks that the Rebbe was not farbreinging in 770), and they would keep on coming. The warmth and authentic Chassidishe environment soon drew in a large crowd, many of whom still attend the Shul until this day.
When the Yeshiva began renovations on 1414 President Street about 20 years ago, they offered the basement as a space for Rabbi Plotkin’s Minyan on condition that they renovate it as well. It was at this point that the president of the Shul, R’ Shaya Boymelgreen, chose to dedicate it in memory of his wife’s grandfather, R’ Getzel Rubashkin. “The name fits the Shul,” Goldstein says, “Reb Getzel was a warm, authentic Chassidishe Yid, and the Shul is just that.”
Today, Getzel’s Shul continues to be a haven of authenticity. Shabbos davening is preceded by a well-attended Shiur in Likkutei Torah and Torah Ohr, and inspired by a Shabbos drasha by Rabbi Efraim Mintz. After davening they hold a weekly Farbrengen, a passionate expression of Chassidishe warmth that can continue deep into Shabbos afternoon. Between Mincha and Maariv they join together in celebrating Shabbos with Seder Niggunim and the recitation of Chassidus.
The Chassidishe warmth is reflected not only in the way the congregation of Getzel Shul’s davens and learns, but in the way they act to one another. “There is quiet chessed,” Shloime Ezagui says. As one of the Shul’s core members, he often helps people donate to one another anonymously. “A young man was sick,” he said, “and within 2 or 3 hours we had raised close to $5,000.”
In true Chassidic fashion, this Chessed is always performed without grandstanding. “There are no Baalei Gaivah, no fighting,” one member noted. Members of the shul anonymously provide a network of support for people within the community, helping people with their rent and providing loans to help with Simchas.
From its humble beginnings in the small basement across the street from the Rebbe’s home to its place today as one the hidden gems of the Crown Heights community, Getzel’s Shul perhaps bears one of the closest resemblances of the shtiebel in the Shtetel in Russia, where R’ Getzel Rubashkin was raised.
349 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 11213
Schedule for Getzel’s Shul:
Chassidus Shiur in Ein-Beis by R’ Yoske Wilmovsky – 6:15 am
Chassidus Shiur in the Rebbe’s Ma’amorim by R’ Yoske Wilmovsky- 6:45 – 7:15 am
Shachris – 8 am
Ein Yaakov Shiur following Shachris
Shiur on Monday night by R’ Michoel Seligson – 8:00 pm
Mincha – At candle lighting
(Winters only) Shiur following Maariv
Chassidus – 9:15 am
Shachris – 10:30 am
Kiddush & Farbreingen
(Summers only) Shiur by Rabbi Efraim Mintz about an hour before Mincha
For more information regarding Getzel’s Shul you can contact 917-837-4225 or via email at [email protected]
In This Series
+ The Shul Where Everyone Feels at Home