May 30, 2024
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May 30, 2024
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New Bobover Kehilla Blossoms in Union

The tale of how a fast-growing community of Bobover Hasidim found its way to Union, New Jersey starts, as do many stories of Hasidic life, with a few conversations in the study of the Rebbe of Bobover 45, Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Unger, in Borough Park.

Roughly five years ago, a few young family men came to the rebbe to express their concerns about the prohibitive cost of housing in the area. They were seeking new options and the rebbe promised to look into it.

The rebbe asked a few Askanim (well-connected people) in the Bobover community to explore some possibilities for where the Bobover community could find a nearby, safe community with affordable housing in the New York metro area. After they researched a few options, they selected Union, New Jersey.

Why Union? As Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, the gabbai of the new Bobover community in Union explained to The Jewish Link, the rebbe’s committee chose the township because of its well-earned reputation of low crime, good neighbors, abundant business opportunities and affordable housing. They also viewed Union as a “center point” within easy driving distance to other large Jewish communities such as Elizabeth, Passaic and Lakewood, New Jersey.

The first two Bobover families moved to Union during Chanukah in 2020, and by summer 2021, 12 Bobover families were living there. By September of that year, there were enough families in Union to prompt the opening of a nursery and kindergarten, which started with 20 children. By the end of that year, the enrollment in the two programs had doubled, to 40 children.

One central element of the formation of this satellite Bobover community is a housing committee, which reports to the rebbe. Bobover Hasidim in Borough Park who are interested in moving to Union are asked to fill out an application, which assesses if they are in the best position to succeed in the new community. The housing community keeps track of houses on the market in Union.

As Rabbi Teitelbaum reports, there are currently 40 Bobover families living in Union, and more have expressed interest in moving there. The housing committee has identified 50 houses or properties that would be suitable for the new residents.

When the Bobover community in Union first started, they used a private home on Bergen Street (loaned to them by a member of the kehilla) as a shul. This fall, they moved to a new shul, at 212 New Jersey Avenue. The shul, and the satellite community, are led by the rebbe’s son-in-law Rabbi Chaim Baruch Halberstam, whom the rebbe dispatched to help oversee the community.

The rebbe visited the Bobover community in Union on the first Shabbat in December 2022 to see the new shul and to celebrate the aufruf of Rabbi Halberstam’s son. That same weekend the Union Bobover community opened a state-of-the-art mikvah as well.

The rebbe has described the Union Bobover community as a place that provides his Hasidim with Yishuv HaDa’as (a relaxed state of mind), which enables them to better serve Hakadosh Baruch Hu and to spend more time raising their children.

The community recently opened a mosdos—a boys’ cheder, through the fifth grade; a girls’ school, through the second grade; and a kollel. The boy’s and girl’s schools already have 200 children enrolled, which includes some children from nearby communities.

Rabbi Teitelbaum pointed out that the kehilla welcomes members from other communities and Slonim, Satmar, Boyan and Sans Hasidim frequently attend the shul. Members of Modern Orthodox shuls in Elizabeth, Hillside and Springfield have davened there as well.

This week the Union Bobover community launched a major fundraising campaign, to raise $1 million to support the recently opened shul, mikvah and mosdos. Members of the kehilla have set personal fundraising goals and are reaching out to family, friends and business contacts seeking support for the community. Rabbi Teitelbaum invites members of other communities to help support the growth of Bobover life in Union. He can be reached at 917-202-8852.

Community member Mendy Torn moved to Union in October 2021 with his wife and two sons; since they arrived, they added a daughter to their family. In November 2022 Torn opened a kosher bakery, named Black and White, at 349 Chestnut Street.

“We moved to Union for the affordable housing, so we could get a better home for our family,” Torn said. “We also wanted to get in early on this new community.” Asked about his impression of the Union township as a whole, he said: “They are absolutely welcoming and very friendly. Yet they also respect our privacy, which we appreciate. It’s a wonderful live-and-let-live situation.”

Harry Glazer is grateful to his dad, Joel Glazer, and his friend Barry Levinson, who shared news tips that contributed to the reporting on this story. Harry can be reached at [email protected]

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