Congregation Ohr HaTorah of Bergenfield ushered in Chanukah hosting the world-renowned Baal Tefillah, Yehuda Green, for a unique Shabbat experience open to the entire Teaneck/Bergenfield community. While Yehuda Green had performed in concerts in Teaneck in the past, it was his first time spending Shabbat in the Teaneck/Bergenfield area.
On Friday night, following Mincha and some words from the Rabbi, Rav Zvi Sobolofsky, Yehuda led an inspirational Kabbalat Shabbat in the true spirit of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Well over 200 men, women and children in attendance were thoroughly engaged, singing throughout and breaking out into enthusiastic dancing at multiple points during the 90-minute beautiful and stimulating davening.
Thirsting for more, the community returned to the shul at 8 p.m. for an Oneg Shabbat with delicious food, featuring more unbelievable ruach and heartfelt singing conducted by Yehuda, interspersed with Divrei Torah from Rabbi Sobolofsky. Rabbi Sobolofsky remarked that while he had just met Yehuda, he was struck and could immediately tell how sincere his davening and singing were, and that they were no doubt influenced by the Torah environment that he was raised in in Yerushalayim, where he was neighbors with great gedolim such as Rav Elyashiv, zt”l. He urged the whole community to take this amazing power of song that Yehuda inspired and to channel it to our Torah learning in order to reach great heights in our service of Hashem.
On Shabbat morning, Yehuda led Shacharit and Mussaf at the 8:30 a.m. minyan, including a memorable Birchat HaChodesh that stirred those davening to circle him with rounds of dancing at the Bima. Following Mussaf, all children first grade and above were escorted into the shul by their Youth Group Leaders in time for Ein Kelokeinu, which they sang and danced along with Yehuda.
On Shabbat afternoon, following Mincha there was another packed crowd for a Shalosh Seudot led by Rabbi Sobolofsky and Yehuda. Following some zemirot, Rabbi Sobolofsky spoke briefly, and then Yehuda led the crowd in more singing of tunes of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and songs of his own, climaxing in the entire shul standing up and dancing for singing of R’ Shlomo’s “Simcha L’Artzecha” and one of Rabbi Sobolofsky’s favorites, “Nigun Neshama.”
Finally, after the conclusion of Maariv, Yehuda, with guitar accompaniment, led the shul in a special musical lighting of the menorah for the first night of Chanukah, followed by his world-famous Havdalah. Videos of the Havdalah can be found on the Ohr HaTorah facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ohrhatorahnj.
Sponsors for the Shabbat included: Grand & Essex, Binny & Sheri Baum, Judah & Nina Eizikovitz, Ehud & Miriam Fried, Stephen & Rachel Fried, Avrumi & Chana Frischman, Ari & Dassie Fuchs, Avi & Deneira Goldenberg, Ari & Deena Katz, Aaron & Rachel Kopstick, Azriel & Ilana Rauzman, Jeff & Miriam Rosenfeld, Josh & Alyse Rozenberg, Nachum & Adena Schwartz, Jason & Rebecca Stein, Yechiel & Miriam Stobezki, Avrami & Romy Tabacznik, Yaakov & Elana Zachter and Naftalee & Tamar Zomberg. Additionally, all of the delicious food at both the Friday night Oneg and Shabbos afternoon Shalosh Seudos was sponsored by Five Star Caterers (Kenny & Meredith Yager).
The event was such a huge success that the shul has already booked Yehuda Green for Shabbat Chanukah next year.
Congregation Ohr HaTorah is located at 36 Rector Court in Bergenfield.