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The YIOT Under Construction

 

History of Young Israel of Teaneck

Young Israel of Teaneck

In 1982, the only local minyan that existed in the Country Club section of Teaneck was a Friday night minyan and a Shabbos mincha / maariv minyan. The hosting families were Tuvia & Paul Markowitz, Kal & Barbara Feinberg and Morris & Elaine Zimmerman a”h. Tuvia’s house had two rows of chairs in his basement and the Torah rotated between homes. As more people moved into the area, the minyan quickly outgrew one basement after another.
As the community grew so did the various food establishments. In 1982 they had one pizza shop, one takeout food establishment (Maadan) and one small butcher store called Greenspans which ultimately turned into Glatt Express.
The families that moved into the Country Club area all knew they had to trek nine tenths of a mile or longer up hill to Beth Aaron. As the years passed, there were two failed attempts to start a local shul in the Country Club area.
In 1991, the Minyan rotation was at the home of Leslie & Elaine Srolovits on Warren
Parkway. That winter was exceptionally brutal, with much snow and ice. One of the local minyan attendees called Leslie and asked if he would mind having the minyan on Shabbos morning as well, since it was suppose to be very cold. Weather forecasters predicted a wind-chill factor of minus ten, mixed with snow and ice. Leslie said all are welcome, provided someone knows how to lain the parsha of the week.
The following week Tuvia Markowitz, who had yartzeit, called Leslie to tell him he was unable to secure maftir in Beth Aaron and would like to have a Shabbos morning minyan. Again, Leslie said that it was not an issue as long as they could find someone lain. The third week, there was heavy snow and wind-chill once again. Everyone decided on Friday night to have another Shabbos morning minyan.
After several weeks of doing this, with Elaine providing egg salad, tuna, crackers and drinks, the Shabbos minyan started growing bigger and bigger. Families called to offer more food and before they knew it, the children used the Srolovits living room as a playgroup room. The coats were all placed like a mountain on Elaine’s couch in the living room, and cholent was flowing every week after the minyan was over. As the couch and rug was being destroyed, Leslie promised Elaine she could buy a new one sometime in the future provided she allows the minyan to continue every week.
While in the basement, there were baby namings, a bar mitvah and an aufruf. In order to accommodate woman at the minyan, Leslie removed the dropped ceiling tiles in the basement, nailed a few wires into the beams, attached a long piece of wood across the back of the basement and draped a sheet over the wood as a mechitzah.
During the 8 months or so while the Friday night and Shabbos minyan was at the Srolovits residence, there also was a Sunday morning minyan at the home of Dr. Ronnie Gross. Every Sunday Charlie Gartenberg a”h (for whom the Service Award is named) would pick up lox and bagels, with different
families acting as sponsors. The Teaneck Road Bagel shop donated bagels every week at no cost.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur davening was held at the home of Arnon & Nancy Steinhart – their basement was painted by several Shabbos minyan regulars and they hired a young local student to daven. Henry Hollad provided Leslie with a list of the members of the Country Club families who agreed to pay $25 dollars per year for the maintenance of the Torah, siddurim and other miscellaneous items.

A charter of incorporation was established and the birth of “Teaneck East Congregation” was official. A meeting was held one evening at the home of Dr. Gross and Howie Sterman was voted in as the first president. At this stage of the shul development membership went from $25 dollars to $125 per year.
Once the shul outgrew the Srolovits residence, it moved for a short time to Dr. Tillingers o”h home. It was during this time that Elaine came up with the idea that the shul needed to change its name for “brand recognition” and she suggested that the shul align with the Young Israel, a national organization. Name brand recognition would draw people to the community. Several people investigated
the organization and we invited Rabbi Pessach Lerner for a Sunday breakfast minyan. The Young Israel was established and in full swing.
After Dr. Tillingers house the newly formed Young Israel moved to Rabbi Raphael & Goldie Minkowitz’s home, where the shul stayed for over four and a half years. The rather large room used for daving at the Minkowitz home was the original recording studio of a famous drummer from the group called “Cool and the Gang”. During the time that the shul met at the Minkowitz home, it hired its first Rabbi – Rabbi Pinchas Weinberger. Rabbi Weinberger and his family were first hosted bimonthly by different members of the shul, then rented a home on Eastlawn Drive and finally purchased a home of their own in Teaneck.
While at the Minkowitz residence there were many simchas. A tapestry with all the
Hebrew names of families and their children was started. That chupah is currently used every simchas torah at YIOT.
During the early years of the shul there were various fundraisers. The most notable fundraiser was the Uncle Moishey concert held at Teaneck High School. Every single seat was sold and some seats were sold twice with two children in many of the seats.
In 1997, when Goldie and Raphael began to marry off their children, the space where davening was held was needed. Raphael realized that if he ever wanted to have his house back, he’d better take steps to help YIOT build a new sanctuary.
Prior to the purchase of 868 Perry Lane, the newly formed shul purchased a very small corner property on East Cedar Lane and Club Road. It was this location that started the battle with the town and the neighbors. The town required a minimum half-acre of land and parking, neither of which was feasible with that property. Various articles appeared in the newspapers and on channel 7 eyewitness news about these struggles. Eventually, the corner property was sold. The property at 868 Perry Lane, which is .97 of an acre, was purchased. 
After many meetings with the township of Teaneck and providing the number of parking spaces they requested, the Beis Medrash was built in one section of the house at 868 Perry Lane. Rabbi Minkowitz and his crew built the Beis Medrash with the watchful eye of Charlie Gartenberg, a”h. As the neighborhood grew, it became evident that we were outgrowing our Beis Medrash. Under the able guidance, and tremendous dedication of Geoff Rochwarger (with Mimi at his side), the current building was undertaken in 1994. What started as a small minyan, has Baruch Hashem grown into a thriving community.
Looking back over the past few decades of the shul there is a lot to celebrate and give thanks for. This shul is an example of what can be
accomplished when people work together with mutual respect, camaraderie and a unity of purpose. Many individuals continue to strive to accomplish our goal of a Mikdash Ma’at (sanctuary) where people can come together in the service of G-d in a warm, friendly and respectful atmosphere.

Tue, December 6 2022 12 Kislev 5783