Founded in 2003, the Bais Medrash of Bergenfield serves some 60 member families. According to its website, “One of the founding principles…is to offer a warm and inclusive environment….Our shul is open to all those who want to daven with us. We plan on remaining steadfast to these principles even as we grow.”
Rabbi Moshe Stavsky, recently named the congregation’s religious leader, is looking forward to that growth.
Said Stavsky, “We hope to slowly build up the shul into a full-week, full-service shul, with services throughout the week and more adult education.”
Today, the synagogue offers Shabbat minyanim, Saturday morning groups for children, and classes and lectures throughout the week, open to the entire community.
The rabbi, who grew up in Teaneck and formerly served as assistant rabbi of Young Israel of Fort Lee, received his ordination at Yeshiva University. He currently serves the Bais Medrash on a part-time basis, working during the week at Ramaz Upper School in New York. Nevertheless, he said, he is “attempting to meet the full range of needs of the congregation.”
The synagogue, he said, is composed primarily of young families, with parents ranging from 25 to 45. Most of the children are young, with just a few in high school.
Stavsky said he wants to “help maintain and further develop the tight sense of community that exists in the shul. My goal is that the shul should engage both the hearts and minds of each individual – man, woman, and child,” he said.
“Obviously, serious davening and thoughtful and inspiring shiurim [religious-oriented lectures] are basic to the mission of the shul. Having a comprehensive network of chesed [acts of loving-kindness] to support the needs of the community is also extremely important.”
According to the rabbi, “The shul should be a place where each member can grow religiously and in [his or her] relationship with God. Each member should be appreciated and valued for his or her own contribution to the fiber of the shul and community.”
The rabbi described the shul as “centrist, or modern Orthodox, with sincere religious families looking to continue to grow while raising families.”
His members, he said, “cherish their many responsibilities to God, as well as to the Jewish community at home and in Israel and to the broader community. They care very much about raising their children as passionately engaged Jews.”
It is one of his goals, he said, to aid in the spiritual growth of the youth through personal relationships and educational programming in the shul and at his home. He noted that the youth committee, under its new director, has just relaunched the Shabbat youth group program “with a very impressive educational program/curriculum.”
One challenge, he said, “is going to be finding time for classes and programming with everyone’s busy schedules. Another challenge will be to maintain the warm feel of the shul as it, God willing, continues to grow.”