Members of a shul threatened with closure completed a sponsored walk to raise funds for their community and pay tribute to the rabbi who helped them – recreating the nine-mile walk he makes every Shabbat to lead their service.
Stamford Hill-based Rabbi Zalmy Brackman has walked to Leytonstone and Wanstead Synagogue (LAWS) every week for more than a year – apart from the High Holy Days – having been prompted to do so after it had been faced with closure, due to a lack of numbers.
Answering a call to officiate services, the 31-year-old said: “I first started going once a month, and there was no minyan. That became twice a month, then every week, but we still couldn’t get ten men. However, as the weeks passed, more people started attending, and I’m glad to say we now have a minyan.”
Seeing a rise in membership since his intervention, the father-of-four enjoys the 75-minute walk, saying how it offers some “lovely scenery”, and thanks his wife Chaia, who looks after their four sons while he’s out.
Enjoying what he does, he’s also glad to have had the opportunity to help. “Part of the Lubavitch philosophy is helping out the [Jewish] community and that’s what this allows me to do”, he says.
To celebrate his actions – and raise essential funds for the synagogue, 10 members of LAWS retraced his steps, where they were welcomed by the Chabad Lubavitch community, davened mincha and maariv and joined a cross-community farbrengen (Chasidic gathering).
Looking forward to continuing his walks and helping the synagogue prosper, Rabbi Brackman added: “Hopefully I’ll be able to do so. I enjoy it, everyone is very friendly and welcoming and it serves a great cause.”