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Khal Adath Jeshurun (Washington Heights, Manhattan)

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Khal Adath Jeshurun (KAJ) is a German-Jewish Ashkenazi congregation in the Washington Heights neighborhood, in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It has established an offshoot in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Monsey, New York.

The community is a direct continuation of the pre-war Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main led by Samson Raphael Hirsch. Khal Adath Jeshurun bases its approach, and structure, on Hirsch's philosophy of Torah im Derech Eretz; it was re-established according to the protocol originally drawn in 1850, which the congregation continues to adhere to fervently.

The community is colloquially called "Breuer's" after Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer, founder and first rabbi of the congregation, who was a grandson of Samson Raphael Hirsch. Rabbi Breuer was succeeded by Rabbi Shimon Schwab, who had been associate rabbi. Rabbi Schwab was, in turn, succeeded by Rabbi Zecharia Gelley, the current Rabbi, who had also been the associate rabbi. Rabbi Yisroel Mantel, of Lucerne, Switzerland, serves as associate Rabbi.

Unlike most Ashkenazic synagogues in the United States, which follow the Eastern Askhenazic ("Poilisher") liturgical rite, KAJ follows the Western Ashkenazic rite, in its liturgical text, practices, and melodies.

True to the "full-service community" as originally established in Frankfurt, the community comprises a synagogue, an elementary school (located at 85 Bennett Avenue), various educational facilities, a social hall, a high school, a Beth Midrash (these are several blocks north, where Bennett Avenue meets 190th or 191st St). The Kehilla also offers its members a mikveh, Kashrut supervision and Shechitah.[1] It also offers an independent Chevra kadisha. The members of the community tend to live in the buildings on Bennett Avenue, Overlook Terrace, and the adjacent cross streets towards the west and Fort Washington Avenue.

The community has traditionally been seen as a bastion of S.R. Hirsch' philosophy of Torah im Derech Eretz (Torah associated with worldly pursuits), although in many ways it has moved closer to the Torah only philosophy popular in many other communities. There has been some conflict between leading members of the community as to which direction it should take.[2] As a result of disagreements Dr Eric Erlbach, the president of the community for 20 years, resigned from his post in 2008 (see above reference).


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