(Courtesy of Cong. Anshe Chesed) It’s 7:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night in Linden, and the sound of things being cracked open fill the air: a fresh box of melty-chocolate-chocolate chip cookies, a plastic container of buttery croissants, a maroon bound gold-leaf Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, three bottles of Poland Spring and Diet Coke, an oversized Bava Kamma, a package of napkins and an Artscroll Shmuel Bet. Over 30 men of diverse backgrounds, ages 20-75 years old, fill the beit midrash and learn together for the next hour and a quarter.
The Samuel Sicherman Beis Medrash Program is a collaboration of Congregation Anshe Chesed of Linden and Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. Otherwise known as the “Linden Night Kollel,” the program is the brainchild of Anshe Chesed’s Rabbi Joshua Hess and the CJF’s Rabbi Dr. Ari Sytner. Modeled after successful similar programs in Fair Lawn and Springfield, NJ, four young men from YU’s RIETS Semicha program were carefully selected through on-site interviews and now lead the program every Tuesday evening. “As our membership continues to grow,” said Rabbi Hess, “we wanted to provide more opportunities for traditional chavrusa learning and spiritual growth. As the YU perspective of Torah U’madda most closely aligns with the backgrounds of our new young professional population, we decided to find more ways to partner with YU to bring a solid ‘kol Torah’ to Linden.” The kollel participants are Aaron Berman, Benjy Katz, Chayim Rosensweig and Asher Shanabrook.
The Linden Night Kollel is not the only YU-related program at the shul. Since November 2018, Anshe Chesed has hosted the Linden Beit Midrash in partnership with the CJF. Once a month, a rosh yeshiva from YU delivers an hour-long shiur on a timely topic to a packed house of men and women. Typically preceded by a fully catered Chinese dinner provided by local Tokyo Hibachi, shul members and those from nearby towns have occupied every available chair to listen to charismatic Torah giants such as Rav Dovid Hirsch, Rav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, Rav Elchanan Adler and Rav Zvi Sobolofsky. An evening draws 50-60 people.
President of Anshe Chesed Josh Weiss remarked that these successful initiatives demonstrate the desire of the congregation to continue to grow in its Torah engagement, as well as the attention surrounding communities are paying to Linden’s energy. “As more young, frum professionals from the NYC area continue to move in,” Weiss said, “we will continue to run programs that are in line with what they’ve experienced in high school, yeshiva in Israel, and YU.” Weiss noted that plans have already been drawn up and significant donations have already been made to build a brand-new large beis midrash off a wing of the shul to further develop the new YU programming. “We’re looking forward to continue working with YU to bring more programming and learning to our shul.”
The Linden Night Kollel runs every Tuesday evening beginning with Maariv at 7:30 p.m. Most recently Rav Elchanan Adler delivered a shiur on the topic of “The Dynamic Interface Between the Various Mitzvot of the Seder: Exploring Rabban Gamliel’s Statement” on April 3. More details regarding the Linden Night Kollel, the beit midrash program and Congregation Anshe Chesed can be found at www.anshechesed.org.