Friday, June 09, 2023

Teaneck—At approximately 2 p.m. last Erev Shabbos, a pipe burst in the main sanctuary of Congregation Beth Aaron on Queen Anne Road and caused significant damage, rendering the shul uninhabitable for Shabbos. As the sun began to set, and it came time to light candles, many members wondered if the shul had been destroyed beyond repair.

“It impacted the front right of the sanctuary,” said Yair Mayerfeld, Congregation Beth Aaron’s president. “The problem is water seeps and flows and sinks to the lowest level. The carpet and floor needs to be replaced, and there was some damage to the ceiling.”

Mayerfeld told JLNJ that no Torahs or sacred objects were affected or damaged. The damaged portion of the building was built in 1986; its expansion was completed in 2011. The newer part of the building were spared.

As the shul’s office is located below the main sanctuary, there was some damage there as well, though computers were removed before they were affected. Quick action by the Teaneck Police and Fire Departments as well as the Building Department prevented more extensive problems. Emergency crews drained the water and began the drying process before Shabbos, thanks to fast actions by shul members who were “first responders,” including Micah Kaufman, Larry Kahn, Abe Leidner and Daniel Chazin.

The Jewish Center of Teaneck hosted the entire Beth Aaron membership for Shabbos. Some 250 people appeared, including those attending groups. Rabbi Larry Rothwachs was invited to give his regular Shabbos morning drasha.

“The Jewish Center of Teaneck was very pleased to be able to accommodate Beth Aaron on such short notice. Our team approach made it possible. We are all fortunate to live in a community that values chesed and midot tovot. The members of Beth Aaron were delightful guests and the sermon given by Rabbi Rothwachs was enjoyed by all,” said Isaac Student, the Jewish Center’s president.

“There was an incredible show of achdus (unity) in the community. It was through the extreme graciousness of the Jewish Center that we were able to move all our minyanim there for Shabbos, including hashkoma (early minyan), groups and kids programming, and also for Sunday minyanim, of which we have five,” said Mayerfeld.

“It was incredibly humbling and deeply heartwarming to see the community spring into action, assisting in damage control, recovery efforts and contingency plans. The unfortunate circumstances notwithstanding, this was undoubtedly one of proudest moments I have ever had in this exceptional community,” said Rabbi Rothwachs.

Mayerfeld was able to announce at the shul’s annual dinner on Saturday evening that Beth Aaron would reopen Monday for its regular davening, with all minyanim held in the social hall. Repairs will be ongoing over the next several weeks or months. “We will be in the building for Shabbos and for Purim,” said Mayerfeld.

Lamdeinu, the learning program housed at Beth Aaron, was temporarily displaced. Lamdeinu Dean Rachel Friedman stated: “Lamdeinu is extremely grateful to Congregation Arzei Darom for housing our learning this week and for making us feel so welcome and at home. We are truly makir tov.”

By Elizabeth Kratz

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