Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown so if you’re ready to kick off the Jewish New Year and party like it’s 5778, we’ve got plans for you to welcome in the holiday, Bushwick-style.
Chances are you don’t belong to a local synagogue and you probably don’t feel like schlepping to your parents’ temple in the burbs on a weeknight but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on ushering in a sweet new year!
In fact, the hippest place of worship is right here in our neighborhood and in true Bushwick style, it’s open to everyone regardless of affiliation. And best of all, it’s free.
“When you come to services here, you’ll be sitting next to a web designer, an artist or a musician because that’s Bushwick,” says Rabbi Menachem Heller who along with his wife Chana run the Chabad of Bushwick on Flushing Avenue in the Loom. The Chabad first opened its doors to the community in 2009 and has since become a Jewish home-away-from-home for many young professionals, especially singles.
“There’s no pressure, no obligations, just come in and join us. We’ve worked hard to create a homelike atmosphere with an open and comfortable environment for everyone,” says Heller who regularly leads Shabbat services on Friday nights followed by a community Shabbat dinner.
Tonight’s services are being held at 8 p.m. to mark the head of the year. Morning services on Thursday begin at 10:30 a.m. and the sounding of the Shofar is at 12:30 p.m. on Friday. In past years, up to 60 people have attended this service but according to Heller, “It’s Bushwick, we never know what to expect—in a good way. It’s a beautiful thing to see members of the community join us but really we never know how many people will come. We aren’t an RSVP type of crowd; it’s all people walking in, which is how we like it here in Bushwick,” he adds.
After Rosh Hashanah service tonight, Chabad guests are invited to a community dinner for the High Holidays featuring traditional holiday staples like homemade challah, apples, and honey to ensure a sweet year ahead, pomegranates which have 613 seeds, the same number of commandments in the Torah along with a full dinner. There is no cost for the meal, however attendees can make a donation online to the Chabad.
Since most Jewish holiday meals traditionally take place in the home, there are two local grab and go options if you’d prefer to lay out a Bubbe-worthy spread in your own home with friends and family. But both are a bit of a schlep.
Pop over to Shelsky’s of Brooklyn on Court Street and snap up some challah, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, chopped liver, whitefish salad and plenty of other Jewish trappings to create your own meal.
There’s also Mile End Deli on Hoyt Street, the Canadian-Jewish Delicatessen where you can stop in and order traditional menu items for take-out or if you’d prefer come early and try and snag one of their limited tables and enjoy their Rosh Hashanah menu specials both tonight and tomorrow.
And if you’re looking for a more out-of-the box culinary experience for the holiday, check out nearby Shalom Japan, the brainchild of chef-owners Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi and enjoy their “authentically inauthentic” Jewish-Japanese eats served up in this Williamsburg foodie mecca.
Their Rosh Hashanah menu ($75 per person) offers up a series of exotic tastings like Sake kasu challah with golden raisin butter, Duck breast with satsumaimo, apple, and honey, Lox bowl with rice, cucumber, Japanese pickle, avocado, and ikura and apple cake with honey lavender ice cream to top it all off.
So Shana Tova or Happy 5778! May you all have a sweet new year!