Many young couples have made the move from Queens to West Hempstead seeking space and a backyard. In the coming months, Rabbi Yaakov Abramovitz, a native of Kew Gardens Hills and a regular columnist at Queens Jewish Link, will be leaving his post as an Assistant Rabbi at Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills to take up the same title at the Young Israel of West Hempstead.
“We have many friends in West Hempstead. It is a tremendously giant and tight community,” he said. “The shul is growing and they hope to reach as many of their members as possible.”
Much of the credit for the success of Young Israel of West Hempstead is attributed to Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer zt”l, who served as its mara d’asra for 38 years until his death in 2021. Rabbi Joshua Goller, the assistant rabbi at the time, was chosen by the membership to serve as the rav of the shul. His installation ceremony will take place on March 27, with special guests Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, the Rabbi Emeritus of Young Israel of Jamaica Estates; and Rabbi Baruch Simon, a Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS. Both Rabbi Goller and Rabbi Abramovitz are musmachim of this seminary, where they also earned their graduate degrees.
Rabbi Abramovitz’s wife Ahuva grew up in the Five Towns and works there as an occupational therapist at Kulanu. They are the parents of twin girls Emmie and Ayelet, who attend Judy’s Nursery, a pre-school located inside the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills.
Despite the loss of a beloved rabbi and the pandemic, membership has increased at YIWH, which has ten minyanim on Shabbos, including two in main shul, Sephardic, teens, and pre-teens. In addition, the shul has a satellite minyan at the HANC ECC, and Shabbos morning children’s groups that meet across the street at the HANC elementary school building.
The full-time shul has a variety of learning programs for children and adults, offering many opportunities to connect with Hashem, strengthen one’s halachic knowledge, and meet fellow congregants. “With my training in psychology, I hope to bring counseling and therapeutic ideas to the community,” Rabbi Abramovitz said.
The two shuls share many similarities, but having grown up in Kew Gardens Hills, Rabbi Abramovitz said that it is an adjustment in lifestyle and guidance. “We appreciate what we’ve gained from Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, his leadership and devotion to the kehillah, and President Stuart Verstandig for providing us the opportunity.”
Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills is also at a historic moment as Rabbi Schonfeld will be retiring and the kehilah will be voting on its next rav this year. Among them are Iser and Yocheved Abramovitz, who live less than a block from the shul where their son’s path to the rabbinate began. “I started here at the teen minyan, leading the Young Marrieds Minyan, serving as an assistant rabbi for the past three years,” he said.
On the block where Rabbi Abramovitz grew up, his neighbor, Queens Jewish Link Co-Publisher Yaakov Serle, has seen him grow and wishes him success in his new position. “He had his start in Kew Gardens Hills, and we are proud to publish his thoughts on the parshah that are shared at many tables each week.”
By Sergey Kadinsky