Thursday, March 23, 2023

Rabbi Avremy Kanelsky is elated. The son of Rabbi Mordechai and Shterny Kanelsky, founders and directors of Bris Avrohom in Hillside, New Jersey, Rabbi Avremy has manned a kiosk at Newark International Airport at the entrance to Gates 60-68 in Terminal B for the past 10 years. From this location, he invites travelers to put on tefillin, receive Jewish literature on the parsha and the like, daven or simply learn about their Jewish heritage. However, throughout these 10 years, despite the placement by Bris Avrohom of 13 Chanukah menorahs at various locations throughout the airport, each prominently standing 9-12 feet high, the airport authorities have never allowed the organization to actually light the menorahs on the actual nights of Chanukah. Until now!

On Sunday evening, December 25, the eighth night of Chanukah, referred to as Zos Chanukah, the first words of the Torah reading on the last day of the holiday, a “miraculous” call came in to Rav Avremy from the airport fire marshall and maintenance departments granting permission to actually light the candles with live flames. Acting upon the newly granted permission immediately, Kanelsky lit the full eight candles with a Chabad mission of 80 individuals on its way to Poland through a nearby gate. Throughout the evening, Kanelsky was able to light the menorah with small groups and individuals as they passed through to their Gates towards the El Al Flights to Israel. Great Jewish pride was displayed at Newark Airport on the last night of Chanukah 2022!

The very next morning, the second “miracle’’ occurred. A WhatsApp chat was created by Rabbi Avremy inviting travelers at the airport to arrange for a Shacharit, Mincha or Maariv minyan within the airport. Whereas initially 100 people responded to the chat, by Tuesday night over 700 people, or to be exact, 747, posted their travel locations on the WhatsApp. The very next day the first Maariv created by the chat was held at Newark Airport. A chat for minyanim organized at JFK and Philadelphia airports was also set up in response to the WhatsApp.

According to Kanelsky, in the past, travelers through Newark Airport have been able to coordinate their Shacharis davening with the early morning minyanim held at the Bris Avrohom Center in Hillside, New Jersey, just a short commute from the airport. The hope is that in the near future, Bris Avrohom will be able to establish a more permanent location at Newark International Airport so that travelers can be assured of a minyan as they embark on their travels. Knowing Bris Avrohom, this too will come to pass.

To contact Rabbi Avremy Kanelsky about minyanim at Newark Airport, email [email protected].

By Pearl Markovitz


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