Chabad of Forest Hills North’s new location at 110-10 70th Road is attracting all types of Jews and providing many services.
The transition after Pesach from 108-05 68th Road came after the day care center expanded to include a pre-Kindergarten program at that site.
Rabbi Mendy and Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht first came to Forest Hills in 2012. Rabbi Mendy’s cousin and affiliate, Rabbi Mordechai Hecht, of Anshei Shalom Chabad, who serves Kew Gardens and Forest Hills/Gardens, noticed the need for Yiddishkeit in this part of Forest Hills.
Many Jews in this area are not observant or affiliated. While some Orthodox move out, many Jewish young professionals, newly married or with young children, live in Forest Hills because they work in Manhattan where it is too expensive to live. There are about 15,000 Jews in the Forest Hills North section, said Rabbi Mendy Hecht, from Union Turnpike to Forest Hills High School and from Queens Boulevard down to the Grand Central Parkway service road.
Rabbi Hecht practices the philosophy of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson: “Unconditional love, no agenda, and genuine love for every Jew, no matter what. You do it from the heart with the right purposes, the love and the kindness. When it comes from the heart, it goes to the heart.”
Rabbi Mendy Hecht’s Wednesday night class at 8:30 p.m. “gives something meaningful, something to take away, how to do a new mitzvah right. It doesn’t matter how many mitzvos you do or don’t do, just do one mitzvah right and know that Hashem loves you.”
The rabbi gives classes one-on-one, on Facebook Live, and makes short Torah videos on the Chabad of Forest Hills North Facebook page. “Many people have changed for the better from just a Facebook post.” He also uses Twitter and Instagram. The Rebbe wanted modern technologies to be used for the good. The Rebbe used television to broadcast his teachings, said Rabbi Hecht. Chabad of Cyberspace was the first public website started after only the militaries were using the technology. Today, Chabad.org is the most visited Jewish website in the world.
The Chanukah party at Yellowstone Park attracts hundreds, where a flame juggler, a clown, DJ, jelly doughnuts, and chocolate coins tossed from a fire truck cherry picker goes along with the lighting of the large menorah. This past year, they had “Purim in Israel” as their theme, a Lag BaOmer party for young professionals, and a garden party during Shavuos.
Shabbos morning starts with a Torah class at 9:30 a.m. Services start at 10 a.m., followed by food made by Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht, such as cakes, salads, etc. When there is a blessing for the now month on Shabbos, there is a big kiddush of cholent, kugel, etc. There are also programs for kids, and the rabbi prepares children for their bar mitzvah.
Weekly “Torah & Tea” on Wednesdays, monthly challah baking, and classes for women getting married are led by Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht, who also teaches elementary children at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. She wants Chabad “to continue to be a very welcoming atmosphere for Jews from all walks of life, from all levels of observance.”
Rabbi Mendy Hecht and his wife teach at the Hebrew School at Anshei Shalom Kew Gardens. He runs “Chabad on Call” for the homebound, those who are in the hospital or on hospice. A care package, with a T’hilim (Psalms) with interpretations, is given “to make people feel loved” and for him “to be there for them in their time of need,” said Rabbi Hecht.
Rabbi Mendy Hecht is a direct descendant of the Alter Rebbe, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe who wrote the Tanya. Rabbi Mendy Hecht lived in Kiev, Ukraine, and in Montreal, Canada, for one year each, bringing people closer to Judaism. He was born in Australia to American-born parents who were Lubavitch emissaries.
Sondra “Sandy” Cohen lives nearby and goes often to Chabad of Forest Hills North on Shabbos. The Rabbi and Rebbetzin, “make it very comfortable to daven there. At the end of the davening, they put out a big kiddush. We talk a little about ourselves so, at the end, we all feel that we appreciate each other’s background.” “They’ve been very, very nice to me. They are very gracious people. It makes you want to come back.”
For more information, go to www.chabadFHN.com or call Rabbi Mendy Hecht at 347-642-7166.
By David Schneier