This past Monday, February 5, at 6:15 a.m., Bais Medrash of Bergenfield (BMOB) welcomed 20 “daveners” to its initial Shacharit minyan. Seen as a momentous occasion for the congregation, which has been in existence since 2004, Rabbi Moshe Stavsky, morah d’asra since 2011, expressed, “The initiation of a Shacharis minyan reflects a strong push by our growing membership to become a fully functioning congregation, offering all of the key synagogue activities.”
Having grown up in the Teaneck/Bergenfield community, Rabbi Stavsky is fully cognizant of the plethora of shuls available to the residents of Teaneck and Bergenfield. As spiritual leader of one of many, Stavsky is determined to make his shul warm, welcoming and caring for a diverse population of members. He sees the current BMOB families as sincere, engaged and growth-oriented, both as individuals and as family units. Tefilla and Torah are highly valued and to that end many shiurim are incorporated in the weekly and Shabbat schedule of the shul. Scholars-in-residence as well as lecturers are featured on a regular basis. In the words of Rabbi Stavsky, “We strive to engage both the hearts and minds of our constituents. I am personally highly gratified that this year we initiated a semi-annual Torah journal called Mitoch Bais HaMedrash written entirely by our membership.”
As the age range of the parents of the member families is mainly from their middle 20s to middle 40s, the growing population of youngsters ranges from infants through college students. Rabbi Stavsky, along with Rabbi David Pietruska, who has served as youth director for the past 2 ½ years, is constantly arranging activities to attract and inspire the youth of BMOB. From Shabbat groups to parent-child learning, from Friday night onegs to Shabbat day luncheons, the children are a key focus. For the younger children, cupcake wars, and magic and animal shows have been popular activities, as well as the spring and summer Perek in the Park led by Rabbi Stavsky at Memorial Park on Shabbat afternoons. For the older children, lectures and special meetings with the rabbi prior to their bar/bat mitzvah celebrations are highly anticipated. For the bat mitzvah girls, the shul has incorporated the popular Matan Bat Mitzvah Program led by Rebbetzin Mirel Stavsky. Conducted in 10 sessions from Sukkot until Pesach, the young ladies and their mothers learn about great Jewish female figures from the distant and recent past.
In response to the growth of membership to well over 110 families, with an additional 40 affiliate families, the shul is outgrowing its premises on 371 South Prospect Avenue. The current premises, which were originally a single home, renovated in 2008 to include a sanctuary and small social hall, can no longer properly accommodate its Shabbat attendees. According to President Jason Koenig, who has served on the BMOB board for 10 years and then as vice-president for five years, after Chanukah of 2016, the membership took upon themselves a fundraising campaign to fully renovate the new, larger property on South Prospect that the shul had previously purchased. Within a short period of time, in excess of $1.5 million was raised, mainly from within the congregation. The next step will be the actual construction, hopefully in the near future. Koenig attributes the fundraising success to the feeling of achdut among the family members. “BMOB has managed to maintain its small-town vibe even within our extensive surrounding community. We hope to maintain our warmth even as we expand into a fully functioning, seven-day-a-week shul.”
Rabbi Stavsky is truly proud of one of the key shul missions, the support of “the people and the State of Israel.” To this end, the BMOB Israel Project raised funds for the young community of Halutza in the Negev. Comprising young families, some of whom were forced from their homes in Gaza, these pioneers are rebuilding a new and vital stronghold in southern Israel. The funds raised by BMOB were earmarked for the new medical center that was recently completed.
A native of Bergenfield, Rabbi Stavsky attended local yeshiva day and high schools. He began his rabbinical career as an assistant to Rabbi Winkler in nearby Young Israel of Fort Lee. After completing four years at the YU Wexner Kollel Elyon, he took the reigns of BMOB. He is very grateful to the more seasoned local rabbis who have welcomed and fully included him in the spiritual oversight of the Teaneck and Bergenfield communities.
Rabbi Stavsky, expressing deep pride in the recent addition of the daily minyan, shared, “The hallmark of our shul is that there is a feeling that each and every person matters and that his/her contribution to the shul is important and valued. My hope is that even as we iy”H continue to grow, we will always appreciate how we enrich and strengthen our community and are not merely consumers in a large shul.”
The daily minyan at BMOB takes place at 6:15 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:25 a.m. On Rosh Chodesh the minyan will begin at 6 a.m. The davening is focused and well-paced.
BMOB is located at 371 South Prospect Avenue in Bergenfield. For further information, visit www.bmob.org or email Rabbi Stavsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Pearl Markovitz