Main Street in Monsey, New York, is not just a plain Main Street; it also has a shul hoif, around which a Jewish community grew up. During the week, the students of Beis Shraga eat in their own dining room, which is in the old building together with the dormitory. However, on Shabbos, the students, aged fourteen to eighteen, eat “teg.” (Note from translator: Teg is a throwback to the practice in Europe, where yeshiva bachurim were assigned families by whom they took their meals.) Every boy has his assigned host where he eats on Shabbos. On Friday evenings and Shabbos mornings, after davening in yeshiva, the boys walk to the shul on Main Street where they wait for their hosts to finish davening, and they go home with them to make kiddush and eat the seudah. I saw them, these young boys, standing outside waiting for their hosts, and in my mind I recalled the Shabbosos of yore, in old-time Vilna, at the table of a friendly host and his wife, a descendant of a rabbinical family, who understood the feeling of a bar mitzvah–aged young lad who was “sent” away from home to fulfill the edict “hevai goleh l’makom Torah — leave the comfort of your home, to reach a place of Torah.” The shul on Main Street, where the Monsey residents daven, is brand-new. Every one of its forty members pledged $250, besides two or three wealthier members who donated larger sums. The Bais Yisroel Shul stands on Main Street as witness to the fact that precious frum Yiddishe children live here. Every time I pass the shul, the door is open, and the Ner Tamid over the aron kodesh burns with a mysterious flame, a flame that crossed oceans and continents before landing in Rockland County. The families that live “up the hill” have their own shul and their own shiurim. I was told that lately, the assistant dean of Yeshiva College, Rabbi Shtendler, moved there, and he teaches Gemara for the residents. What’s interesting, though, is the fact that the dean of Yeshiva College, Dr. Yitchok Bikan, comes to daven in Bais Yisroel, even though he lives “up the hill” among the wealthy residents. As an aside, I once met this college dean at a rabbinical conference, and he was the only one who davened with his tallis over his head. Don’t think that “down the hill,” around Maple Avenue and Main Street, there are only paupers. There’s a man, originally from Hungary, who is estimated to be worth millions, and he donates quite generously. Monsey has an exceptionally interesting person, who does not fit into the American stereotype. He has a steady income from investments, and he learns Torah day and night. He doesn’t run, like the other Monseyites, to New York every day. His “job” is learning. He hired a G-d-fearing scholar to learn with his children, and he sits in his house with them and learns. For secular studies, his sons attend Yeshiva of Spring Valley in the afternoon.
92 / THE MONSEY VIEW / November 15, 2017 www.themonseyview.com / 845.600.8484
The Monsey View