The Prospect Heights Shul is a Modern Orthodox Shul in Brownstone Brooklyn

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The Prospect Heights Shul
A Modern Orthodox Shul in Brownstone Brooklyn

Dear PHS Friends,

With 2020 upon us, it’s a good time to reflect on the past six months and on the year ahead at PHS.  We hear your feedback and appreciate that you want to be more informed, so going forward, the PHS Board will send out a quarterly newsletter to keep you apprised of key developments and policy changes.  

While more remains to be done, of course, we all should be proud of our accomplishments in late 2019: 

  • Welcomed new Rabbi: We welcomed Rabbi Jon Leener, Faith, and their beautiful children to our community.  Thank you Leeners for welcoming us into your home in return and for spiritually growing with us ever since. 
  • Registered 501c3: We officially became a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, now recognized at the federal level as eligible for tax beneficial donations, Amazon Smile fundraising (convert your regular purchases into charitable donations here), and employer matching programs.
  • Delivered the High Holidays: High Holidays at PHS were epic this year. With thanks to our chazzanim and leyners, our huge turnout ushered in the new Jewish year with inspiration and intention amidst meaningful, spirited, and beautifully song-filled davening.  Also, we connected with our neighbors to drive communal solidarity, including a Sukkah Hop with Atarah and a Shemini Atzeret dinner with CKI. On Simchat Torah, we danced to the zimmunim of our Sephardi and Ashkenazi members and ensured that every participant regardless of gender or identity had the opportunity to have an Aliyah LaTorah, with women's leyning by and for women. 
  • Opened 1027 Pacific: In November, we started using our upcoming space at 1027 Pacific for Friday night minyanim and other special services.  With (all but one of) NYC approvals finally in place, renovations to the space are due to begin in the next month with a full move in date targeted for approximately four weeks thereafter.  Thank you to general contractor (and PHS member) Jeff Delson who is contracting the renovations.
  • Cherished life cycles: Our community welcomed babies, hailed a Bat Mitzvah entering majority, remembered lost loved ones, and celebrated weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, by doing everything from organizing minyanim to sending food to organizing special kiddushim to providing our communal support.
  • Engaged the women of PHS: We sponsored a “Women’s Brunch” to continue the important dialogue about women’s interests in and perspectives on PHS. Anonymized data resulting from the discussions are linked here.  Informed by this data, we shortly will send out a survey to further inform future programming and initiatives.  Thank you to Faith Leener for organizing and hosting this impactful event.
  • Delivered programming and events: We organized a variety of events, both educational and community-building. You may have participated in various communal lunches, a Lunch and Learn with Dr. Eugene Korn, Mix and Match Shabbat Lunch, ‘Adventures in Chassidic Thought’ with Rabbi Leener, our Karaoke Chanukah Party at Izzy’s, ‘Advanced Talmud for Everyone’ with Noah Greenfield, a joint PHS-Altshul Christmas Eve volunteering event, and more.

At the same time, the Ritual Committee, in conjunction with Rabbi Leener, has been engaging a series of ritual matters, some of which were on hold since the last PHS Board and Rabbi were in place.  After careful consideration, the Committee presented its recommendations to the Board, which approved the following policy changes. We very much want your input and perspective on how to implement these policy updates. 

  • Bar and Bat Mitzvah partnership minyan -  As shared back in August, members in good standing may host a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Shabbat day partnership minyan alongside the PHS regular minyan.
  • Sephardic Tefilot / Traditions - The shul will incorporate Sephardic tefilot and traditions into services and practices in order to meet the spiritual needs of our growing Sephardic community members.  This will include:
    • Option of Selichot in nusach Edot Mizrach; 
    • Option of High Holiday Torah reading in Sephardic trope
    • Nusach Edot Mizrach will be available to be recited on special occasions in accordance with the Shul’s policy on partnership minyan. (Note, in order for nusach Edot Mizrach to be used, proper siddurim need to be provided.)
  • Kabbalat Shabbat - The Shul will initiate a pilot program to designate a Friday night each month when a woman will be invited to lead Kabbalat Shabbat. On the third Friday of each Gregorian calendar month, we will have Kabbalat Shabbat open to be led by a woman.  Please read Rabbi Leener’s community letter on this topic here

Finally, we want to share goals for the next six months so as to ask for your input, commitment, skills, and time to help realize them together.  Please contact Shushana Young ( to discuss how you can get involved. 

  • Inaugurate 1027 Pacific: Complete internal construction of and officially move into our new home at 1027 Pacific St.  Inaugurate our new home with a befitting Chanukat Habayit.
  • Davening: Support Rabbi Leener with consistent, timely minyanim for all Shabbat davening.  
  • Advance security: Use the $100,000 grant the DHS awarded PHS (still to be disbursed) to deliver advanced lock systems, security cameras, and security personnel. 
  • Enrich kids programming: Work with PHS Kids staff to develop more impactful and engaging programming and to build opportunities for older kids to participate in Shul services.
  • More events!: Expand PHS’ learning and community events to include additional Lunch and Learns / Scholars in Residence, social events, and even kids-run events. 

More remains to be done, yet we are making progress.  Thank you for your commitment, involvement, and support.  Here’s to making 2020 a spiritually and communally impactful year! 

The PHS Board


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