The Lefferts Shul lies at the intersection of history and modernity. It has evolved from one of the first Shuls in Crown Heights to becoming a bastion of the Crown Heights renaissance of the past decade. This incredible story can be traced back to a group of brave Chassidim and their dedication to the Rebbe’s vision.
Congregation Adas Yisroel – Beis Midrash Eliyahu Nachum, affectionately known simply as, “the Lefferts Shul”, became a Lubavitch shul in 1975.
Crown Heights, formerly a home to Jews of nearly every type of Orthodoxy, was rapidly transforming. The other communities, many of whom had lived in Crown Heights since the twenties, were fleeing en masse in the face of plunging real estate prices and skyrocketing crime rates.
It took the Rebbe’s wisdom to see that Crown Heights had to remain a home for Chassidim, and it was on his instructions and encouragement that the Lubavitch community of Lefferts Shul began.
Shul president Reb Dovid Rimler and his wife moved to Lefferts Avenue in 1969. Calling it “the good old days,” he noted that “Lubavitch was hardly represented” in the neighborhood.
At the time, the shul was called Kahal Adas Yi’Raiyim. It was run by the Chentzkovicher Rov, Rabbi Shmuel Teitelbaum. Rabbi Teitelbaum was an affiliate of Satmar, but ran his own small Shul out of the first floor of his home.
With the rise in crime, Rabbi Teitelbaum decided that he would move out of Crown Heights, but the Lubavitcher members of the Shul advocated that the Shul remain. On the last day of Pesach in 1969, the Rebbe began speaking of the “veritable plague…of selling Shuls and Batei Hamidrash to non-Jews.”
For Rimler and his fellow Chassidim, this meant that the Shul on Lefferts could not be abandoned. Together with such luminaries as Rabbi Yechezkel Langsam, Rabbi Moshe Levertov, Rabbi Zalman Gurary, Rabbi Mottel Chein and Rabbi Eliyahu Nachum Sklar, the Chassidim that lived on Lefferts Avenue began working to rebuild the Shul.
In those early days, the Shul membership was dwindling, but their dedication to the Rebbe kept the Chassidim on the block waiting for a Minyan, or standing on the street to gather passers-by. As time passed, however, the Shul grew, and by 1975 they were able to offer to buy the building from Rabbi Teitelbaum. Rabbi Teitelbaum was eager to be rid of the building, and he issued them an ultimatum: they had to both take the mortgage and pay him the sum of $9,000, or he would sell the Shul, which meant the Shul could end up being purchased by a non-Jewish buyer.
With a considerable donation from Rabbi Zalman Gurary to start them off, the group of impassioned Chassidim went door-to-door to collect the rest of the money. Rabbi Eliyahu Nachum Sklar, the beloved Chossid of the Freidiker Rebbe and the Rebbe, recommended that they name the new Shul Adas Yisroel.
By 1988 the Shul community was thriving, now boasting two Minyanim and a warm and vibrant place for people to Daven. Before Rosh Hashanah of 5749, the Rebbe declared that year to be Shnas Habinyan, and encouraged Shuls to make efforts to expand. The Chassidim of Congregation Adas Yisroel took this call to action and began to fundraise. As he did for anyone that agreed to expand, the Rebbe personally gave them 100 dollars. The community collectively raised $125,000 to expand the Shul, while Rabbi Zalman Gurary donated funds to renovate and expand the Mikvah.
In 1990, Rabbi Sklar, a pillar of the community, was tragically killed in a hit-and-run on Eastern Parkway on his way to the Kollel Chabad Melavah Malkah at Ohelei Torah. Rabbi Sklar was the gabbai of the Shul, and his loss was devastating. The community honored him by changing the name of the Shul to Congregation Adas Yisroel-Beis Midrash Eliyahu Nachum.
Today, the Shul continues its mission to accommodate those following the Rebbe’s directive to strengthen Crown Heights. In the past decade, many young families have been renting and buying homes closer to East Flatbush, and they have looked to Lefferts Shul as a center of Yiddishkeit. Lefferts Shul is the closest Mikvah to East Flatbush, the Shul originally drew many people for that reason, but the Shul continues to work to make people comfortable.
In recent years, the facade of the Shul has been renovated as a replica of 770 Eastern Parkway. They made Mikvah membership fully automated and enhanced the Mikvah facilities. They also began a Seforim collection, expanding their library to provide people with a place to study. The Shul now has four Shachris Minyanim, nightly Shiurim, and a constant flow of Chavrusas coming in to learn. On Shabbos, Oholei Torah Mashpia Rabbi Nachman Schapiro delivers the weekly Drasha, as well as reciting a Ma’amer Chassidus on Shabbos afternoon.
Congregation Adas Yisroel-Beis Midrash Eliyahu Nachum (Lefferts Shul)
672 Lefferts Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213
Schedule for the Lefferts Shul:
Chassidus Shiur – 6:30 am by Reb Zalman Lipsker
Shachris – 7:00 am, 8:10 am, 9:20 am, 10:30 am
Mincha – Bizmana
Shiur in Rambam by Rabbi Spielman
(Shul open from 7-10:30 for learning, as well as a nightly Shiur)
Mincha – At candle lighting
Chassidus Shiur – 9:00 am
Shachris – 10:30 am
Mincha (1st Minyan)
Shiur by Rabbi Mendy Wolff
Mincha (2nd Minyan)
For more information regarding the Lefferts Shul you can contact 3477684563 to be added to the Shul Whatsapp group.
Our Shuls – COLlive profiles of the shuls of Crown Heights: