As Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year 5777, begins at sundown on October 2, Rabbi Hecht will not only be praying for himself and his family, but for his community. CFHN often uses their private home or rents temporary spaces for larger events.
In keeping with the organization’s geographical name, they are hopeful that the community will assist their growing membership in the search for a 1,000-square-foot multi-purpose space for lease off the north side of Queens Boulevard between 67th Road and 72nd Drive.
“The community needs to feel established and know there is that same door they can come in whenever they need,” Rabbi Hecht said. “A place to enjoy their heritage without it being a burden.”
Expansion plans have already begun to take shape.
“We are planning to have a weekly afterschool kids program and weekly Shabbat morning services,” he said. “I would also like to bring back trolley rides along Queens Boulevard, where we can create the ‘Mitzvah Mobile Trolley’ to promote our mission and sell kosher yogurt and pastries.”
Not long after Rabbi Hecht, a 30-year-old Australia native, and Rebbetzin Hecht, a 28-year-old Brooklyn native, moved to Forest Hills in September 2012, they launched CFHN to help the community explore Jewish teachings through Torah, maintain traditions, and make the world a brighter place by pursuing “mitzvahs.”
They wed in 2011, and today the rabbi refers to himself as a proud husband and father of three.
“We raise them to care for others and perform good deeds,” he said. “This is what they see all day long, and they are no doubt going to follow in these footsteps.”
One of Rabbi Hecht’s major motivations was the mission of Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson OBM (1902–1994), who was an influential 20th century Jewish leader.
In the Chabad House, a vintage photo of the rebbe is on the wall above a large table, which becomes the sight of Shabbat gatherings, among other festivities.
Rabbi Hecht offers weekly Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons, and his wife hosts a weekly “Torah & Tea” class on Tuesdays.
“It attracts women from all walks of life to enjoy a Torah thought in Chaya's unique style,” he said. “And hot tea is served with her baked goods she has become famous for.”
Also well-known is their Cholent Club Friday night Mincha minyan featuring fresh herrings from Brooklyn and homemade salads, followed by Kabbalat Shabbat. On Shabbat mornings at 9 a.m., Rabbi Hecht offers a Kabbalah class with insights on the Parsha.
He also exercises his generosity of spirit through routine mezuzah checking and installations, and by placing Tefillin on patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and the homebound.
Participation in diverse community events has been on the rise. Recent memorable events included public Passover Seders at PS 196, Chanukah Arts & Crafts at Home Depot, Children’s Storytime at Barnes & Noble, Rock & Blues Purim, and Loaves of Love/Schlisel Challah After Pesach.
Last December, “Chanukah in The Park” at Yellowstone Park became a first in Forest Hills. The Parks Department has approved another permit for a Hanukkah lighting ceremony this year.
“The last night lighting the eight Chanukah flames on the lawn was a sight, where over 200 guests attended plus many more that looked out from the surrounding building windows,” he said. “In the crowds, I heard ‘I never experienced this before in Forest Hills’ and ‘I feel like I am back home in Israel,’ which made it even more meaningful.”
To attend the Rosh Hashanah 5777 dinner and services, as well as participate in CFHN, visit www.chabadforesthillsnorth.com.