• Chabad Revives Dying Community

    One of the most famous anti-Chabad claims heard over the years is, that Chabad comes to a community, takes over the Shul, and destroys the community ● This can be no further than the truth, and Pittsburgh is the most recent example ● Read More

    Rejuvenated Shul filled with new young families

    by Toby Tabachnick / The Jewish Chronicle

    Three years ago, Yehuda and Chaya Cowen were facing a dilemma.

    The young couple were living in a small apartment in Squirrel Hill, happy with their Jewish community but quickly running out of space. With one child and another on the way, they knew they soon would need a larger home, but they were pretty much priced out of the housing market in their neighborhood of choice, in the heart of Jewish Pittsburgh.

    As fate would have it, they found their answer just about a mile away, in Greenfield.

    At the same time the Cowens were contemplating a move, the Orthodox B’nai Emunah Congregation in Greenfield was transferred to Chabad Lubavitch of Pittsburgh with the intent of revitalizing Jewish life there.

    So, seeing a potentially viable option in the fledgling congregation, the Cowens decided to take a chance that a thriving Chabad community would soon take root.

    “We bought a five-bedroom house with a backyard in Greenfield and paid what our friends in Squirrel Hill were paying for tiny three-bedrooms,” said Yehuda Cowen, now president of B’nai Emunah Chabad.

    The Cowens’ $150,000 home was in move-in condition, he said, with a new kitchen and a renovated bath.

    The Cowens, along with a handful of other Chabad families, in effect became trailblazers in 2011, leading the way to a new center of Jewish life, not far from Squirrel Hill but far more affordable.

    “We just had our fourth Rosh Hashanah at B’nai Emunah Chabad,” Cowen said. “The first year, we had about 40 people. This year, we had about 200 people in shul, with 120 people at a beautiful meal with great food. None of us thought it would come this far.”

    In the last three years, more than 20 Chabad families have moved to Greenfield and affiliated with B’nai Emunah Chabad, said longtime member Mitchell Hoffman.

    Hoffman, who has been attending services at B’nai Emunah since 1984, noted that just three years ago, he was one of the youngest members of the congregation. Now, at age 66, he is one of the oldest members.

    He sees that as a good thing.

    B’nai Emunah transferred title of the synagogue to Chabad Lubavitch of Pittsburgh in 2011, Hoffman said. An aging congregation with dwindling membership and funds, it was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain B’nai Emunah without making a change.

    “Once we turned the synagogue over to Chabad, people started moving to the community,” Hoffman said. “They have been amazing. They’ve worked very hard and have been very respectful of all of our traditions.”

    About 10 families from the old B’nai Emunah stayed on with the congregation after its transfer to Chabad, he said.

    “There has been very positive growth,” Hoffman noted. “And it has restyled and changed the entire Jewish community in Greenfield. There is a new vitality, and I only see that growing.”

    The Jewish Greenfield transplants are eager to roll up their sleeves to do what it takes to build and grow their community, according to Rabbi Elchonon Friedman, spiritual leader of B’nai Emunah.

    “It’s like building a city from the ground up,” he said. “Everyone is pitching in. Everyone feels it’s their home they’re building.”

    Each year since 2011, between six and 10 new families have moved to the community, Friedman said.

    “And now a lot of non-Chabad families are moving to Greenfield too,” he added, noting that Greenfield is still walking distance to the Orthodox synagogues in Squirrel Hill.

    “It’s all happening very quickly,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

    There are now several blocks in Greenfield filled with young Jewish families. B’nai Emunah counts more than 50 children among its members — most under the age of b’nai mitzvah — and the congregation hosts a junior minyan as well as a children’s library.

    While B’nai Emunah is affiliated with Chabad, it opens its doors to Jews “from any walk of life,” Friedman said. “Jewishly, anyone should feel comfortable and that they have a home here. It’s more a community than a shul.”

    In addition to services, the congregation also runs several events throughout the year such as various classes and a popular “restaurant night.”

    “It’s a beautiful kind of community we have in Greenfield,” said Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld, director of Chabad Lubavitch of Pittsburgh.

    For Yehuda Cowen, Greenfield was most definitely the right choice. He appreciates the tight-knit feel of the neighborhood without feeling isolated from the Jewish epicenter of Squirrel Hill.

    “My parents and my in-laws live in Squirrel Hill, and on Rosh Hashanah, we could still walk to their homes — we’re in the eruv,” Cowen said. “You don’t feel like you’re walking to another town. It’s only 10 or 15 minutes. But Greenfield is a little quieter. And there are already three families on our street — all within a few doors of each other — and all with kids.”


    Tags: ,

    Related Posts:

    1. awesome shul and great people.

    *Only proper comments will be allowed
  • Event Calendar

  • Tuesday, Oct 27th, Wedding – Shlome Wolvovsky – CH & Rochel Leah Matusof – Madison, WI @ Oholei Torah
  • Thursday Oct 29th Wedding: Devorah Bennish – Detroit & Mordechai Rubin – London @ Royalty House, MI
  • Sunday, Oct 25th, Sholli Miller – Chicago, IL & Batya Korf – Miami Beach, FL @ Bais Rivka 310 Crown Street
  • Thursday, Oct 22 Wedding: Chaim Boruch Bar-Chaim – CH & Shoshana Pimentelli – CH/TX @ Oholei Torah
  • Thursday, Oct 22 L’Chaim: Sruli Finck – CH & Chaya Mangel – Dayton, OH @ Chovevei Torah 885 Eastern Parkway
  • Tuesday, Oct 20th Wedding: Dovid Kaminetzky – Melbourne, AU & Chaya Okunov – Crown Heights @ Oholei Torah
  • Monday Oct 19 L’Chaim: Ari (Aaron) Levertov – Crown Heights & Debby Rabinowicz – Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Choivevey Torah
  • Monday, Oct 19 2015 Wedding: Mendy Zippel – Salt Lake City, UT & Fraidy Shagalov – Crown Heights @ Oholei Torah
  • Sunday 18th Oct. L’Chaim: Chananya Niassoff – CH & Tzirl Brennan – CH @ Bais Rivkah Crown St
  • Sunday Oct 18th – Wedding: Mendy Edelman – Crown Heights & Sara Lozenik – Miami, FL @ Oholei Torah
  • Tehilim

  • Urgent Tehillim Needed
  • Dov Chaim Ben Rivkah
  • Tzvi Hirsch Ben Guttel
  • Charna Alexandra bas Chana Esther
  • Ettie Bas Alte Miriam
  • Zissel Yehudis Bas Masha
  • Chaim Yosef Yitzchok Ben Sarah Elka
  • Devorah Bas Sarah
  • Boruch Ben Sarah
  • DovBer Ben Dina
  • Lost and Found

  • Lost Men’s Heavy Black Winter Jacket Size Large in 770
  • Lost in 770 before Pesach, a black Bradley Jons long coat size 38R. No lining and no belt. Almost brand new! Please call zalman at 347-788-0749
  • Found black hats outside 770, behind the Hatzalah ambulance
  • lost – Chitas bearing a blessing to Shmuel from Sarge. (Sargent Zvi Fisher z..l.v) [email protected] or +1-7869427070
  • LOST: in 770 a black Lenovo Intel core i5 laptop in a dark grey laptop bad together with a WD hard drive, if found please call Zalmy 347-788-0749
  • Found: Maroon Chitas
  • Found: Bag of Clothes
  • Found: Leather-Bound Pink Siddur
  • Lost: Box with Mini Shas from YSP
  • Lost: Rose Gold Bangle/Bracelet
  • Classifieds

  • Cook position for a local Mosad
  • Looking for a cook/kitchen manager
  • Administrator for a local Mosad Experience a must, and preferbiligual a bonus [email protected]
  • Looking for a cook/kitchen manager Experience a must. [email protected]
  • ‘Beis Mosiach’s’ to give away for free
  • Private Rooms for Men
  • Newly renovated Basement for rent
  • Judaica Store in Crown Heights is Looking to Hire
  • Looking for Work? Opportunity available, for a quick & efficient typist in Williamsburg. For more info: 201-800-1774
  • Lost in 770 Last Week: Transparant Bag of Tefillin, Rashi, R”T, Chitas – in black/grey 770 pouches