It was just one year ago, on Rosh Chodesh Elul 5775, that 18 chassidishe yungeleit and their families moved to Baltimore to establish Khal Chassidim/The Chassidishe Kollel. This exciting initiative was intended to bring more chassidishe life to the Baltimore community, while training the yungeleit to become baalei horaah, able to serve Klal Yisrael in any way they choose. B'siyatta diShmaya, in the year since its inception, the project has been tremendously successful.
In the beis medrash, the yungeleit have learned through portions of hilchos Shabbos, and Yoreh Deah, under the guidance of their Rav and Rosh Kollel, Harav Hershel Rosenfeld. Throughout the year, many local Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivah have given shiurim in the kollel, including Harav Moshe Heineman, Rabbi Tzvi Einstatder, Rabbi Dovid Heber, Rabbi Nesanel Kostelitz, and Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger, and all have been very impressed with the level of learning of the yungeleit.
The group of families that worked to bring the kollel to Baltimore has forged a strong bond. The kehillah has held several Shabbos Hisvaadus together, and are gaining tremendously from the atmosphere of Torah and chassidus that the kollel and the kehillah are offering.
In addition, the broader Baltimore community has been attracted by the varmkeit of the kehillah, and many community members have made Khal Chassidim their makom Torah u'tefillah. Shiurim given by Harav Rosenfeld, especially a hilchos Shabbos shiur on Shabbos afternoon, are well attended and appreciated, and Harav Rosenfeld has been invited to speak at various community events.
Reb Yosef Chaim Salazar commented on the impact of the kollel. “ My entire family has grown tremendously from our association with the kollel. The davening and the learning opportunities are really outstanding, and the group of yungeleit and baalei batim have made it a warm and friendly place, stimulating spiritual growth and achdus.”
Growth in the kollel continues, as four new families have moved to Baltimore. bringing the total number of yungeleit to 22.
Last year, a day care center, addressing the needs of the kollel families and others, was established under the direction of Mrs. Rochel Zucker. Beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul, Cheder Khal Chassidim will be inaugurated, with a boys' kindergarten. Rabbi Chaim Dov Markowitz, an experienced aleph-beis rebbe from Monsey, has moved to Baltimore and will be teaching this first class. A girls' school is anticipated to be opened next year, in Elul 5777.
Construction for the kollel is well underway. The first major project includes twenty beautiful town homes, to be built on the corner of Park Heights and Taney. These homes are scheduled to be completed by June 2017, and will be occupied by the yungeleit, making the current apartments available for new yungeleit. It is also hoped that other chassidishe families from New York, who are entering the job market and are considering relocating to other communities, will join Khal Chassidim.
Currently, Khal Chassidim in housed in trailers. However, plans are underway for construction on a beautiful beis medrash, located on Park Heights Avenue, between Pinkney and Parkington.
Looking back over the year, Rabbi Moshe Dovid Friedman, a yungerman at the kollel commented, “I have seen much hatzlachah in three areas, b'siyatta diShmaya. In the kollel itself, the yungeleit have very much become one chaburah, as we all work together to get to bottom of the halachah. In the kehillah, there is real feeling of community. As far as the greater Baltimore community, we all feel very much accepted and welcomed. Hashem should help that this should all continue further. “
Reb Yankel Herskovitz, a prominent Baltimore community member who is active in Khal Chassidim, explained the role of the kollel. “I have been living in Baltimore for more than 50 years. I’ve watched its small but vibrant Orthodox community grow by leaps and bounds to become a major, and perhaps the largest, Orthodox community outside of the New York area. Having grown up in a chassidish home, the one thing I have always missed in this city is that same vibrancy and growth in the small chassidish presence in Baltimore. All are familiar with the almost 70 year history of Congregation Arugas Habosem and Congregation Machzekei Torah, and their contributions to the community. However, we needed young chassidish couples to make Baltimore their home. The kollel has brought that youth, and along with it, the promise of chassidish growth outside of just the kollel members. Their Rabbi and Rosh Kollel, Harav Hershel Rosenfeld, is a major talmid chacham and posek, in addition to having the experience and vision to attract people not just of the Chasidic persuasion, as I’ve witnessed over and over again by seeing the people who come to daven and learn in the kollel. Anyone walking into the kollel is greeted warmly and can find a comfortable place. The kollel has contributed to a greater understanding between the yeshivish world and the chassidish world and that will be the key to their continued success. Hopefully, in a few years we will have a sizable chassidish community in Baltimore thanks to the kollel. “
This article was featured in this past week's edition of Hamodia