Continuing 3000 years of tradition and service. Our children’s link from the past to the future
This article is written with a sense of fulfillment, joy, hope and thankfulness to Hashem. After several years of challenges and much anticipation, our community’s beloved Ohel Yaacob Synagogue of Deal is now re-opened to better serve our growing and diversifying community.
This prominent and magnificent synagogue was named in honor of the community’s beloved Chief Rabbi Yaacob Kassin A’H (1900-1994). Rabbi Kassin was a globally renowned kabbalist with extraordinary gifted foresight in guiding his kahal in America into this century. He was known to have related to every community member regardless of their level, with kindness and exceptional wisdom thereby bringing each person closer to Hashem. He is largely credited with fostering peace and unity amongst all members of the community, and preserving the Syrian community from assimilation, after leaving its hometown Aleppo in the early 20th century, where they existed for three thousand years since the time of King David.
Chacham Baruch Ben Haim A’H (1921-2005) served for decades as the Chief Rabbi of Ohel Yaacob during the summer months. Our beloved rabbi was also a globally recognized brilliant Torah scholar whose ardent love of Hashem and each of his cherished community members was felt by everyone. He recognized that as the oldest community in the world, our preservation of our Sephardic traditions and service of Hashem was and will continue to be our formula for success both financially and spiritually. As such, these values should never be considered old fashioned. Chacham Baruch emphasized the importance of guidance by our great rabbis. Our community is unique in that many members have great Rabbanim in their lineage.
Our globally admired community has continuously grown and thrived since the Ohel Yaacob Synagogue opened in 1984. Walking through the halls of our new building one can still hear Chacham Baruch saying that “the summer is not a time to take a vacation from Hashem. ” He wisely understood that summer too had time for service of Hashem through prayer and learning Torah. Summer was also understood to be an especially unique time for fostering community togetherness in the house of Hashem.
Today’s board of directors embarked on the current expansion in the spirit of our founding members Victor Azrak A”H, Albert S. Dwek, David Franco A”H, Moe Gindi A’H, Isaac Kassin A”H, Albert D. Sutton, A”H. With the blessing of its rabbis, under the leadership of president Jack A. Kassin and building chairman Ike Franco, the board embarked on an ambitious expansion program to better serve the community in prayer, Torah learning and celebration of semachot into the next century with a magnificent new facility.
The synagogue’s spiritual guidance is under the religious leadership by the internationally recognized Head Rabbi of Ohel Yaacob, Rabbi Eli J. Mansour. Rabbi Mansour was a devout and loyal student of Chacham Baruch, and follows and leads in his ways. His team includes Rabbis Isaac Yedid, Rabbi Moshe Malka, Rabbi Joseph Mizrahi, Rabbi Yaccov Elbaz, Rabbi David Shelby and Rabbi Ralph Gindi. The synagogue’s extensive prayer schedule, classes and shiurim are available on ohelyaacob.com. Prayer and learning activities are structured to maximize time efficiency during the precious summer months. There is something for every family member both men and women, young and old.
In an exclusive interview with the Jewish Voice, Rabbi Mansour, shlita said with a palpable ebullience resonating in his voice, “This brand new synagogue is not only aesthetically beautiful but the majestic beauty of Torah learning and prayer reverberates within its walls.”
He added that “the policies of this synagogue are, Baruch Hashem, very inclusive, warm and friendly. Everyone is welcome and everyone is made to feel that this synagogue is their second home. The very comfortable atmosphere is perfect for a summer retreat synagogue and we attract congregants not only from the Deal community, but far and wide as well. We are very proud of our staff who are always the first to welcome new people.”
Moreover, the Ohel Yaacov Synagogue has transformed into a seat of intensive Torah learning and a hub for scholars and serious Torah researchers to gather. “The board of directors has spared no expense in providing the synagogue with the most comprehensive and incredibly vast Jewish library, with literally thousands of seforim. I cannot think of even one sefer that we do not have.”
Placing a strong emphasis on providing the future leaders of the Jewish people with a spiritual location where they can learn, socialize and connect with one another, Rabbi Mansour speaks of the activities that the synagogue has organized for the youth in the community. “Every night at 7:00 pm, about 100 or more kids join us for a specially created Torah learning program for them. Each night they learn a different subject. And they enjoy the ice cream and other refreshments while bonding with their friends and neighbors in a wonderful setting. As a matter of fact, the entire lower level of the synagogue is dedicated to our youth; who are our gems and our future.”
For the ladies of the community, Rabbi Mansour says that, “We have classes for ladies three times a day. The fact that the effort was made to build such a beautiful shul is a real draw for the ladies. They enjoy classes on Pirkei Avot, Parsha, Tehillim, Mussar and a variety of other tracts. They benefit from the ruchniyut of the synagogue in countless ways. We are always cognizant of the fact that it is the mothers and future mothers that shape the destiny of Klall Yisrael, so our educational program has been designed specifically for them in mind.”
Rabbi Mansour says that now that the summer is drawing to a close, the same spirit of Ahavat Yisrael and Gemilut Chassadim will continue at the current location of his synagogue in Brooklyn. “While we have not as yet moved to our new location on Avenue U and Ocean Parkway, we invite and enthusiastically welcome everyone returning to their lives in Brooklyn after Labor Day to join us at 1501 Ocean Parkway on Shabbat or anytime. There is no doubt that the same uplifting spirit will continue and we would be honored to have people join us.”
The newly expanded and beautified Ohel Yaacob Synagogue is infused with a spiritually uplifting, beautiful light filled facility with many views overlooking the gorgeous blue ocean. The new ball room with sea viewing balconies is a fabulous place to celebrate any occasion.
But perhaps the most impressive achievement of the newly expanded facility is the embracing and warm sense of welcome to everyone in our community, togetherness, and a fostering of prayer and love of learning. This is witnessed by the tremendous attendance this year and the rapid growth of the many shiurim.
Ohel Yaacob is a great holy place to bring all members of your family this summer to practice their traditions, get closer to Hashem and each other, while vacationing by the shore. In short it is fulfilling the visions of the great Rabbanim Chief Rabbi Yaacob Kassin and Chacham Baruch, who dearly loved and cared for every member of our community, and were in turn dearly beloved by the community. Ohel Yaacob synagogue truly captures the community’s Historic Sephardic traditions as brought down and taught to us by our great Founding Rabbis.
By: Eddie Hedaya
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