Local Kiruv Group Makes Judaism Exciting and Accessible, Even During the Nine Days - The Jewish Voice
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Friday, May 20, 2022

Local Kiruv Group Makes Judaism Exciting and Accessible, Even During the Nine Days

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Mr. Norman Shine, tells a gathering of BJX students about how he became shomer Shabbat at age 52, the highlight of an already fascinating and successful life.The Brooklyn Jewish Experience (BJX) works non-stop, planning a weekly dinner/lecture, advanced Torah classes, and coordinating Shabbat placement and hospitality, one-one-learning, mentoring, and a weekly radio program. “Last week, several students signed up for our level two learning program,” representatives for BJX happily report, and others signed up for their one-one-learning chavrusah program. Another BJX participant returned from her studies in Eretz Yisrael.  

Last month, Brooklyn Jewish Experience held their first ever barbecue [A BJXBBQ? –ed.] in the beautiful backyard of the evening’s generous hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Eli Goldbaum. It gave the students the ability to experience Torah Judaism in a casual, intimate setting. Mr. Goldbaum prepared a full-on feast that was immensely enjoyed by all.

Noted author and Torah scholar Rav Yitzchok Fingerer gave a fascinating shiur on the hashkafah (“philosophy”) and history behind Tisha b’Av, as well as some of the laws. He made a poignant and compelling case for the divine authorship of the Torah based on the epic tragedies associated with the 9th of Av throughout the ages. Then Mr. Goldbaum, the CEO of Senior Care Services, gave a captivating and inspiring speech about his family background, the miracle of their survival under Nazi oppression, and how he started his own business and now manages three separate companies.

The students listened with rapt attention, and there was a lively Q & A session following Goldbaum’s speech. Many of the students spent the rest of the evening bonding with Mr. Goldbaum and getting his advice. Mr. Shimon Lefkowitz, a BJX partner and mentor, also took time from his busy schedule to come mentor students.

In addition to the barbecue, BJX had an program for the Nine Days that participants are calling “exceptional,” and “inspiring,” hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Pinchos and Yona Shine. The students were treated to an array of gourmet dishes and luscious dairy desserts. The program began with an exciting shiur by Rav Fingerer introducing the concept of Eicha and the Nine Days, and insights into the Batman Massacre and was followed by a special guest speaker, Mr. Norman Shine, who became Shabbat-observant at 52 years old! Norman is originally from Memphis, Tennessee and attended the same school as Elvis. He had a successful career with the Chicago Tribune and IBM but the highlight of his life, he explains, was becoming frum.

Pinchos Shine then regaled the students with fascinating accounts of open miracles that he witnessed, and how to find true fulfillment and happiness in life. Mr. Shine’s father was once driving his friend, Rabbi Hanoch Teller (with whom he was collaborating on a book), to the airport. On the ride back, he suffered a heart attack and crashed into a telephone pole. This occurred right near a fire station, so help arrived immediately. The doctors said he would not survive. His wife said he will, because he was returning from performing a mitzvah. When he recovered, the entire hospital wanted to know what this mitzvah business is.

Shine’s father would listen to lecture tapes by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, often while he drove. All of the thousands of those tapes are numbered. “The number on the tape he was listening to at the time of the accident,” says Pinchos “exactly matched the number of my dad’s hospital room. Happenstance? The accident happened on Getwell Avenue! The book they were working on was titled Soul Survivors!”

Pinchos Shine was then joined by his wife and business partner, Yona, who shared with the students insight and advice on real estate, and balancing one’s life with business, family, and faith.

Lastly, Mr. Alan Magill, a columnist with the Jewish Press, shared with everyone a fascinating account how as a young unaffiliated Jew in Manhattan, he was lured by a young woman who turned out to be a missionary. He explained how vulnerable every Jew is to the missionaries and how important it is to be connected to one’s own faith. The students, inspired by the evening’s program, were eager to learn more about Judaism and further their connection with the Rabbis and mentors of BJX.

BJX is very concerned about the missionary center opening in Flatbush and is planning on opening Brooklyn’s first all-encompassing Kiruv center. Anyone interested in assisting their efforts should visit www.thinkandcare.org or call 646-397-1544 to learn more.

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