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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.
Around 28 years ago (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 yortzeit 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 can find someone lain. The third week there was heavy snow and wind-chill
once again and 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 o”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 our 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 lets align ourselves with a known name 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’
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 we had many simchas and we also started a tapestry with all the
Hebrew names of families and their children. The 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, and 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 our 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
our struggles. Eventually, we sold the corner property and purchased 868 Perry Lane which is .97 of an
acre. We had great difficulty securing a mortgage and the seller floated a mortgage until we could find
one.
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, o”h. As the
neighborhood grew, it became evident that we were outgrowing our Beis Medrash. Under the able
guidance, and tremendous dedication of Geoff Rochwager (with Mimi at his side) our current building
was undertaken in 1994. What started as a small minyan, has Baruch Hashem grown into a thriving
community.
As we look back over the past 28 years or so of our shul, we have a lot to celebrate and give thanks for. As
you can see from the brief history above, our shul (as every shul should be) is an example of what can be
accomplished when people work together with mutual respect, camaraderie and a unity of purpose. We all
strove and should 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.

 

The first drawings for YIOT for a property on East Cedar......from 1994

 

Followed by some issues.........

 

.....followed by our new home at 868 Perry........

 

.....and then our first major construction at our current location........

 

Mon, December 16 2019 18 Kislev 5780