Memory Lane: Chevrah Anshei Lubawitz of Boro Park
In the year 1920, the wealthier members of Congregation Beth El on 12th Avenue and 41st Street broke ground for a grand new temple at 48th Street. It was inaugurated in 1923. Thus, the smaller but truly beautiful shul at 41st street needed new inhabitants.
Enter Chevrah Anshei Lubawitz, the current inhabitants of the shul since 1922.
Anshe Lubawitz of Boro Park was formed in 1914—holding their davening and other gatherings at another chassidisher shtiebel in Boro Park; in the basement of the Sfas Emes shul, still located on 42nd Street. A chevrah in every sense of the word—their charter reflects the deep emphasis on unity and togetherness for which they stood.
The deed of sale states; “this indenture, made the 17th day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty two, between Congregation Beth El of Borough Park, having their principal offices at 41st Street and 12th Avenue, borough of Brooklyn, city of New York, party of the first part, and Chevra Anshei Libawitz, a religious corporation having their principal offices at 1337 42nd Street (still the home of Sfas Emes)… in consideration of $20,250 money of the United States and other good and valuables… assigns forever…” (Interestingly, alongside this deed is found the original deed that sold the tract of land to Beth El in 1905 by one Morris Glick—the very name that appears on the card with the records
The charter is written in a charming Yiddish, and members are referred to as bruder and shvester, brother and sister—as many societies’ charters did in those days. The express purpose of these chevras was to encourage each other in shemiras hamitzvos at a time when the winds of assimilation were blowing with such ferocity. Being a member of the chevra meant signing onto this extremely detailed contract of commitment to give of oneself to his fellow.
Following are some of the guidelines to which every member had to commit:
The chevrah shall always have a shul to daven and to learn, every morning and evening, and Shabbos and Yom Tov…There shall always be love and brotherhood between all participants; the chevrah shall have a plot in the cemetery, and all necessities in the case of a death, R”l; members shall keep in order their children in shul, if not they can be sent out; when a member is called to the Torah and does not come up, he shall be fined $8 for the bizayon haTorah; all members are regarded in the same way, regardless of economic status; in the case of an illness, ch”v, and bedside care is required, it must immediately be provided by the chevrah,; of someone is hospitalized, they must be visited three times per week; one who takes off his tallis before aleinu will be fined 50 cents… There are numerous laws; describing in vivid detail the responsibilities of each of the officers of the shul, and the proper conduct and decorum expected from all of the members.
An illustrious guest to the shul in the year 1929 was the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, zt”l. There is rare footage of the Rebbe in the various locations in Boro Park on that day, and over the years, there was much correspondence in which he exhorts the congregants—through their Rabbanim—to greater shemiras hamitzvos.
A great amount of money was lovingly showered by the members over the years into beautifying and refurbishing the shul (comparing the photos from different eras that we have featured here, we can see that the columns in front have been added at a later time). These individuals continue the legacy of this congregation founded in 1914 in Boro Park of yesteryear.