October 14, 2021
Rabbi Yonah Reiss
Chicago Rabbinical Council
2701 W Howard
Chicago, IL 60645
Dear Rabbi Reiss:
Rabbi Zev Eleff in his 2016 book, Modern Orthodox Judasin quotes a 1954 Der Tog article in which Rabbi Yoseph Ber Soloveichik was asked three questions and the Rov’s response was published. One of the questions was asked by a young man who had moved to the suburbs. There was no orthodox Shul nearby and asked the Rov if he, the young man, can hear shofer in a Shul with mixed seating. The Rov said, “It would be better not to hear the shofar than to enter a synagogue whose sanctity has been profaned.” The Rov went on to say,”Orthodox organizations should undertake to build synagogues in the suburbs and new communities where Jews are settling. If the various synagogue organizations . . . wound concentrate in America they could accomplish much.”
It is over 65 years since the article and I just realized that Chabad is fulfilling the Rov’s wishes and the Rov’s prophecy. I was speaking to Rabbi Avrohom Gershon and he told me that his son, Rabbi Mordechai Gershon, opened up a Chabad house at 1501 S. Indiana, in the South Loop of Chicago. I was amazed. I already knew that Chabad had a number of places on the North side, but did not realize how much Lubavitch has penetrated the City. Someone told me that in opening up a new store, his company used a 2.5 mile radius around a store to be part of the store’s community. Chabad’s biggest gap is between Bnei Ruvain and Chabad of East Lakeview, a 6.5 mile walk. Lincoln Square is roughly in the middle. I am sure that Rabbi Hertz is working on setting up a Chabad house in Lincoln Square. (I just found out that Rabbi Hertz will eventually set up a Chabad house in West Lakeview, roughly 2 miles south east from Lincoln Square or 4 miles from my house.)
I attend the Chabad of East Lakeview. Rabbi Kotlarski is working to create a community and a full time Shul. One of the benefits he has is that there is an Eruv in the community. There is no problem with Chilul Shabbos. It is a joy watching this formation.
In the attached letter to Rabbi Ciment of Boynton Beach, FL, I spell out what a Shul means to congregants. Lubavitch is giving Jewish people eternity.
Walking the six miles from my house to Chabad of East Lakeview on Shabbos Parshas Noah, I thought about the luxury of an Eruv. Setting up a large community Eruv that would encompass many of these Chabad houses or individual Eruvim around these Chabad houses would be a major benefit for the Lubavitch Rabbis and for the Jewish people. Carrying on Shabbos would be one less worry for them. I realize that this is a difficult undertaking in terms of Halacha and money, as I do not have the money to fund the project, but I would like to put this out in the public consciousness, especially to the leaders of the community.
Mitchell A. Morgenstern