Kelsey Media

Best of Shul Awards

111 comments

I was sitting in Adath Israel in San Francisco this past shabbos afternoon in their weekday shul and it came to me that they had the best benches I have ever sat on, it then came to me that I have visited many shuls, and that I could come up with a best of list. Maybe I could figure out which shul has the best kiddush, worst mechitza and most unfriendly vibes, so based on my visitations here is my Shul Awards.

Best benches: Adath Israel, San Francisco (weekday shul)

Most welcoming kiruv shul: Ohr Torah, Dallas Texas (walk into this shul and they come running to welcome you, invite you to lunch and it’s not just the rabbis it’s everyone)

Most welcoming yeshivish shul: Tie between Zerah Avraham, Denver Colorado and Agudah in St Louis (boths huls are black hat and both shuls are incredibly friendly towards any guest that walks in their day, people will be fighting over you for lunch and so on)

Worst mechitza for looking at the girls: 770, Crown Heights NY (imagine a balcony with a tall mechitza it’s just awkward, but fear not my friends, there is a viewing platform where the women model their hooker boots and $3,000 sheitles right outside)

Most boring shul: Tie between Young Israel of Monsey and Young Israel of Forest Hills, Queens NY (I think we could probably lump all Young Israel’s into this category)

Strangest Kabalas Shabbos: Aish Kodesh, Boulder Colorado (they daven earlier so they could do kabalas shabbos with instruments, up until lecha dodi, everyone get’s an instrument and it’s mad cool)

Best singing: Mission Minyan, San Francisco (Wrote about this here – but they have the best singing period)

Most uncomfortable seats: The main shul in Tannersville NY (Imagine inverted benches with very tall backs that allow for no bend whatsoever – they are yekkes so maybe that explains it)

Strangest mechitza: Tie between Lincoln Square Synagogue and Mt. Sinai both in NY

Most litvishe chabad shul: Chabad in Boynton Beach Florida (read my post here)

Oldest most smelliest bathrooms: Mishkan Tefilah, Providence Rhode Island (I am telling you it smells like someone died in the middle of a post cholent toilet sitting)

Frummest shul: Rudinsky shul in Monsey (no one would even think of talking in this shul, it actually is frum, I guess having a big Talmud chacham and good speaker helps)

Least amount of leg room: I have a shul in mind and I can’t remember it

Strangest mix of people in a shul that the Rabbi wears a streimel: Goldbergers, Baltimore Maryland (if you want to see some strange people, and even stranger BT’s go there)

Best after shul singles scene: Friday night at Oheb Tzedek, Upper West Side NY (everyone spills onto the sidewalk and the mingling begins – actually it began in shul)

Most comfortable chabad house: Chabad of Ann Arbor, Michigan (they have couches in shul)

Worst shul to go with a blue shirt on: Kokos shul on Park Ave in Monsey (I would like to add all of the basement shuls in Monsey to this list)

Best mosh pit in shul: Main Skvere beis medrish, New Square NY (naturally 5000 people crammed into a room is going to create a melee)

Hottest married women: Bais Shmuel, Crown Heights NY (I have been informed that the women were so hot that they don’t let them come to shul anymore, it was really the only place you could see women wearing sheitles, mini skirts and cleavage shirts with husbands in kapote’s and black hats)

Best herring: Shul on the Beach, Venice California (they had this homemade jalapeno herring and cream herring that was by far the best herring I’ve ever tasted)

Most unwelcoming out of town shul: St. Regis in Rochester NY (lived there for years and half the shul never said a word to me, but besides this point – I would watch guests shuffle in and watch in horror as people just kind of stared at them without going up and saying hello)

Best place to see violence at a hot Kiddush: The White Shul in Far Rockaway, NY (take a bunch of transplanted Brooklyn folks and put them in front of one table of food after a long ass davening)

Most likely shul to hear fire and brimstone mussar from the pulpit: Am Echad in San Jose, CA (the only shul I have ever been to in which the rabbi rebukes his congregants and flings fire and brimstone mussar during his speeches.)

Most awkward shul entrance: Tie between DAT in Denver Colorado and Lincoln Square Synagogue in NY (At DAT Denver Academy of Torah you walk in and everyone is facing the entrance, in Lincoln Square the glass mechitzas combined with the bimah in the middle of the layered ros of seating really make for an awkward time)

Only chabad house that davens nusach ashkenaz: Chabad on Campus, Albany NY (not only do they daven out of artscrolls, they daven ashkenaz, because the Rabbi says that’s what most people know and will do after they finish school so why change their minhag)

Most openly yechi middle of nowhere chabad: Calgary, Alberta Canada (yechi was yelled at the end of davening multiple times and I do believe it was the first time I heard it live)

Most unwelcoming chabad house: Anchorage, Alaska (we slept on their floor and all three of us felt very unwelcome – I have since learned that we were not alone in our thoughts)

Most complex mechitza:  Rabbi Taubs, Baltimore (it seems like they have an engineer design the thing so you don’t see the ladies come in or out)

Best dancing: Carlebach shul, NY (this is no kiruv circle dance where you hold some clammy kiruv rabbis dead fish for a couple of post lecha dodi ring around the bimahs)

Frummest shul with most modern congregants: Vorhand Shteeble, Upper West Side, NY (chassidish shteeble with regular upper west side attendees)

Best Shul Library: Beth Shalom, Rochester NY

Shul that is alive but shouldn’t be: Charles Street Shul, East Village NY (the language is Yiddish and everyone is over 80)

Most unfriendly shul that I heard was friendly: Heritage Center, Kew Garden Hills Queens (I stayed for the entire davening and kiddush and not one person said a thing to me, pretty hard considering it was tiny and I was obviously the only guest)

Non-chabad shul with the most chabad siddurim and books: Beth Abraham Jacob, Albany NY (regular modern orthodox shul filled with tanyas, likutei sichos and tehilas hashems)

Most liberal orthodox shul I have seen: Beth Israel in Berkeley, CA (the women do pesicha and they give devar torahs)

Best weekly Kiddush: Kehillah Center, Toronto Canada (back in the day they had beer and wings every week) do they still do this?

Most interactive rabbi speeches: Am Echad, Sam Jose (these people seriously debate with the rabbi in the middle of the speeches)

Strangest Shul location: Chabad of Center City in Philadelphia (the shul is in a converted night club/ recording studio

Best beds in a shul: Chabad of Birmingham Alabama (they have these four post beds with down comforters it’s really something)

Loudest shul talker: Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills in Queens NY (there are several very loud talkers – the whole shul isn’t talking but by far the loudest shul talkers)

Most welcoming modern orthodox shul: Shaare Tefilah, Dallas Texas (Texas hospitality with a low mechitza and a very cool Rabbi who is into Wii)

Coolest Looking American shul: Bialystoker shul, lower east side, NY (has that grand old European, the picture at the top is of this shul)

  • http://hannahbanana.pnn.com/13235-the-front-page HannahBanana

    I call shenanigans! Where’s “Funniest schul: Mount Sinai Synagogue in Brooklyn Heights”?!

    Shenanigans, I say!

  • Mosidoxish

    You should have a favorite button on your posts.

  • susitna

    Even Anchorage people think that the Anchorage chabad is unwelcoming.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Wow!!!

      • Zvi Lampert

        I actually had a very good experience with Chabad of Anchorage.

        • arnold and myrna enker

          so did we

      • susitna

        It’s why the Reform synagogue does most of its services mostly in Hebrew. Has to serve everybody, from the liberals to the just barely shy of Orthodox. At any given Torah study, you can count on having every chumash from your basic Plout to ArtScroll. Makes life (and d’vars) very interesting.

    • Josh Zweig

      Rowdiest Kids: West Side Institutional

      • Shalom Shulevitz

        WSIS is also the best shul to get your palms read by a certified fortune teller wearing a black and gold kittel.

    • Zvi Lampert

      The worst sleeping arrangements in a Chabad house I ever experienced was in Tennafly, NJ. They just threw a mattress on the floor of the kids’ playroom right outside the main shul. Try getting a nap in on shabbos afternoon. A ‘bagel’ was out of the question.

      • Alter Cocker

        and what is a bagel?

    • Floridian

      I’ve been to Alaska 27 times and certainly more than that to the Anchorage Chabad services and events! The Rebbitzen Esty Greenberg is one of the world’s best kosher cooks! I felt most welcome long before they knew who I was! All of Anchorage attends their fabulous Chanukah celebration in a downtown convention center. Her Saturday lunches are to die for. Their new Jewish Center, well not so new anymore -(I used to attend when services were in the family’s basement)- has an incredibly practical and lovely design. As for sleeping accomodations, the city is loaded with reasonable lodging. I can’t imagine sleeping in my Florida shul, and I CERTAINLY can’t imagine feeling unwelcome at the Greenbergs! You were being satirical? ugh

  • kissmei’mshomer

    Great list!
    Mt. Sinai even made it on for “strangest mechitza” – so proud!
    One critique though – I know I’m going to get blasted by people for “not having a sense of humor,” and “not appreciating satire,” and being “overly sensitive” but here goes… I can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable with your characterization of women at 770 and their “hooker boots.” I know the whole deal about hot Chanies and whatnot, and I get that you’re poking fun at people who follow the letter of the law but totally miss the spirit of the law… but I still feel as though people label frum attractive women with terms like “shaitel hooker” or “hot Chanie” a little too easily. Just my thoughts. :)

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      You are absolutely right – but I have to slip in my sexism somewhere, and this is more subtle.

      • kissmei’mshomer

        Lol, at least you’re honest about it. :)
        Not sure about its subtlety, though!

      • Anonymous

        Hesh u are funny without the sexism stuff!

  • http://innate-differences.blogspot.com The Bray of Fundie

    I eagerly await your yeshiva list

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      This list is only based on shuls I have actually been to and most of them more than once. I have only gone to 2 yeshivos, unless you count the 4 grade schools I went to.

  • The Real Joe

    I live in Crown Heights and I laughed and was embarrassed at the same time on the descriptions of the Shull’s in my neighborhood I mean I don’t agree with your 770 line but about Beis Shmuel ya thats the story whats interesting is the amount of new Shull’s opening every year CH some people are against it saying that “soon 770 will be empty” I think its great the more Shull’s the more everyone can find their comfort zone

    • Anonymous

      You don’t agree about the 770 line? Why, because it’s rather accurate?

  • s

    S

  • http://www.michaltastik.com Michaltastik

    What the heck do you have against Queens? The only Brooklyn you pick on is Crown Heights. I can’t believe there is no stab at any shuls in Flatbush.

    How about worst women’s sections for the women? I’ve been in shuls where there is a hole in the floor of the upstairs and THAT is the women’s section. My friend told me about the “chicken wire” shul in Seagate.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      This is only based on shuls I have been to – the only shul I have ever davened at in Flatbush is Landaus

  • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

    At least we made the “good” list…

    Albeit, for my friends amazing herring.

    We should also win, best “bulletin board” and “best sunset” and “best blogging rabbi”.

  • Joseph

    I nominate Shaarei Tefila Lubavitch in North Seattle as “Shul With Best Kiddush Club”,or, at least best Kiddush Club in Seattle.

  • Frum in Philly

    @ Joseph

    Lower Merion Shul (Merion, Pa) has the most awesome array of liqour in its kiddush club. I have never seen any better shmorg of liqour (even in the five towns)

    • PA-Bound

      Where in the shul does the kiddush club meet?

  • http://www.twitter.com/susqhb Susanne

    Sorry, best kiddush club is my shul, Mt Sinai in Washington Heights. Proof: http://www.frumsatire.net/2010/02/28/hitler-finds-out-about-the-kiddush-club-interesting-purim-shpiel/

  • http://lewyn.tripod.com/blog Michael Lewyn

    Wow, I’ve actually been to one of these (Shaare Tefillah in Dallas). And yes, its as welcoming as Heshy says!

    Didn’t know about the Philadelphia former night club- when I lived in Philly Chabad was at Vilna and Bnai Abraham (two old shuls that Chabad had taken over).

    • Deena

      Chabad is still in Vilna and BA. Hesh is probably talking about yet another Chabad run shuel in Philly.

  • Phil

    You forgot an important category: Shul with the quickest service.

    The one I attend (Anshei Lubavitch – Montreal) averages less than 2 hours for Shabbos shachris including the speech, and under 4 hours for Rosh Hashana, 1/2 hour less if no shofar due to Shabbos.

    • http://hatthief.blogspot.com Meir

      Lubavitchers I think realize that davening is not the most enticing thing for BTs, so they are total speedsters. I think they got through the megillah in 25 minutes.

      • Ben

        25 minutes is slow, I think.

    • http://furrydoc.blogspot.com furrydoc

      Wonder if their baal tfilah would like a genuine American Green Card.

  • Danielle G.

    Hey, Providence’s Mishkan Tefilah made the list! Cool!

    *actually reads the award*

    …uhhhh. Cool. *awkard laugh*

    You are right on the money; however, most of the congregants are old and it’s right by the hospital, so it does kinda make sense.

    • http://www.jonahhalper.com JH

      Woohoo! Mishkan T made the list…I almost died of laughter…I think I can smell those bathrooms from my parent’s house down the street.

  • theres more than 1 chabad that davens Ashkenaz

    theres more than 1 chabad that davens Ashkenaz

    • Joe

      I think there are a few shuls with chabad rabbis that daven ashkenaz (like Landfield Ave Synagogue in Monticello, a few Young Israels with Chabad rabbis, etc.) but they are not chabad houses

      • mike

        The Habbad Rabbi Of landfield is trying to make the shul a habbad shul not an ashkenai one

  • sergeant J

    Goldbergers rocks….

  • Chana

    “I have been informed that the women were so hot that they don’t let them come to shul anymore” Wait, seriously? Source? Can you elaborate? That seems crazy.

    Great list! It makes me want to visit all these shuls and compare my observations to your awards. For some of the “strangest” ones, you didn’t say what was strange about them. The Baltimore shul’s strange members, for example.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Oops I rushed this out in the morning I’ll get in and edit it.

      The shul in CH is common knowledge in CH, you can pretty much ask any insider from the hood

      • The Real Joe

        Their allowed in on Yom Tov’s only

      • Deena

        Well Hesh,
        I think you have found the secret to how you are going to get a hot babe. just start wearing a black hat (grey is popular too) and commit to a kapota after you get married. The girls will start lining up!

  • Avi

    The biyalostoker is a beautiful shul, my grandfather was the rabi there for 42 years. I love that place and the community is full of good people.

  • Saul

    Where’s Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights? You obviously haven’t spent enough shabbatot with us.

  • http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com Tova

    Most anti-meshichist shul:

    Mishkan Israel – Detroit, Michigan

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Do they burn moshiach flags or what

      • benji

        no, they burn the people holding the flags!

        • http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com Tova

          Haha, that’s too true.

          In Detroit, meshichists are seen as wackos or fools. The few ones here are talked about behind their backs.

          • EK

            A place has to be a shul in order to be an anti-Meshichist shul – therefore I’m not sure if the Mishkan Israel Nusach HoAri Lubavitcher center can qualify.

            And second of all I think 770 Montgomery beats it anyway. It’s basically all the old antis who are to holy to daven in upstairs 770.

            (Also, Mishkan Israel is in Oak Park, MI, not Detroit proper)

  • http://thesweestake.blogspot.com Akiva

    Hey – didn’t have the patience to read through the whole thing, but least legroom should go to Clanton Park Synagogue in Toronto ON. It’s ridiculous…

    • http://tevytown.wordpress.com tevster

      Agreed

    • OrthoPrax

      Clanton Park has no leg room?! The benches are spaced pretty widely apart, and I’m a tall guy. Never had a problem with Clanton Park.

  • http://www.nehiva.org Yitzchak

    please come visit us sometime in Richmond, VA at our new shtibel, Nachalei Emunah – our website is http://www.nehiva.org

  • ShidduchMaven

    You forgot to list the shul with the best looking single maidels.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      I didn’t forget I just don’t know -

      • Anonymous

        You really thought that Heshy fogot THAT?

  • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

    Here are some minor additions:

    Best all shul without a women’s section: Rabbi Groeners in Far Rockaway

    Most out of town shul in New York: The Park Slope shul on 9th street – not sure the name.

    Most silent davening: Rabbi Rodins shul in Dallas

    Best shul location: Shul on the Beach, Venice Beach Boardwalk in LA

    Most open kiddush club: West Side Institutional (back in the day kids and women could attend – prety much anyone who wanted to leave during the haftorah and talk about how much the liberals sucked)

    Best place to catch a 2pm shachris: tie between 770 and Viznitz in Monsey

    Worst Shul Name: West Side Institutional Synagogue

    Slowest Laining: Any Yemenite minyan

    Shul with the worst ventilation: Ishei Yisroel, basement of YCQ in Keew Garden Hills

    Other awards that I would love to hear your thoughts on:

    Best kiddush, Best hot kiddush, Hottest single girls, best shul to see someone you know, friendliest NY shul, frummest out of town shul, interestinbg mechitzas, best outfits…

    • http://www.nehiva.org Yitzchak

      i once saw a very open kiddush club at a chassidishe bungalo colony in the catskills – it didn’t happen like this every week but it was like 2 feet away from the Bimah – that bungalo colony was sold a few years ago

  • Zvi Lampert

    Best 2 PM shacharis, Munkacz in Boro Park belongs on that list.

    The most welcoming shul I’ve been to, believe it or no, was Bobov in Boro Park.

    A close runner up for strangest location is Chabad of Dobbs Ferry, NY, which used to be a church.

    The loudest talker I’ve seen were at a local basement minyan in Cedarhurst.

    The least effective mechitza: the Hampton Synagogue, Wesh Hampton, NY.

    Best kiddush club : Young Israel of Far Rockaway. Rabbi Chill actually invites the guys into his office after davening, in exchange for them not sneaking upstairs with scotch and herring during laining and davening mussaf plastered.

    • Zvi Lampert

      Another candidate for loudest talkers, Crown of Israel, on 18th ave in Boro Park.

  • Jeffrey

    <>
    I davended here back in the ’80. They have the greatest Hashkomo minyan on Simchas Torah followed by a great hot kiddush with chulent, kugel and more. If you’re on the west side for Simchas Torah, this is the place to go.

  • Avrumy

    Best overall shul experience: Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst.
    Comfortable seats. Wonderful stained glass windows. Split level library. Fully handicapped accessible. Great kiddushim. Dynamic friendly rabbi. So much attention to detail. Every space is beautiful, from the enormous main shul to all the beis medrashim, lobbies and classrooms.
    Sadly, I wouldn’t consider it the friendliest of places. But way friendlier than the nearby Young Israel of Woodmere. Talk about UNfriendly…

  • Bella

    Never been to DC? I know you have been to Kemp Mill (MD)… PS I agree with the comment that just because Lubavitcher ladies are pretty…yes, we rock!

  • bla

    long ass davening.

  • http://innate-differences.blogspot.com The Bray of Fundie

    Heshy-

    I am amazed that you are so well traveled. I have probably attended, or at least visited, more Yeshivas than Shuls.

  • Adam

    Shul where you’re most likely to see someone you know – The Great Synagogue, Jerusalem, Israel and/or The Kotel (if that counts as a shul), Jerusalem, Israel.

  • Elizabeth Levinson

    What about Emek Beracha? Where do they fit in? I’m sad you didn’t mention them. :(

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Actually I would place them in the most unfriendly, unwelcoming and cold (could you tell I don’t think very highly of it) out of town shul I have ever been in but for political reasons I couldn’t put in the main part of the post.

      • Elizabeth Levinson

        Really? I would place them under least amount of leg room or shul that contrasts most with its environment (Palo Alto, CA. Need I say more?)

      • Alter Cocker

        lol at political reasons

  • http://tevytown.wordpress.com tevster

    Great post!
    I’m surprised no Israeli shuls won any awards – don’t know if you’ve been to many, or maybe they just don’t stand out.
    I’m interested to hear how you define a great shul library

  • Leead

    you are very “Jewishly” cultured, more than any other USA Jews i know…and funny. next step is to go international!

  • Q

    Charles Street Shul is in Greenwich Village, not the East Village. And everyone there speaks English; the atmosphere is decidedly American, not European. Maybe you’re thinking of another shul?

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Nope Ahron Moeler took me there and everyone was yapping in Yiddish – and everyone was over 80 besides for us

      • ghottistyx

        Come and think of it, I’ve never actually been there for davening. I used to frequent Andy Statman. There is a man in charge there who identifies himself as the gabbai (The Rabbi, he told me, has been dead for some time). I also seem to remember that the proceeds from the Andy Statman show help with the upkeep of the shul.

        The crowd that comes there for Andy Statman is another Torah. I’ve met some interesting people there. One dude, for example, wasn’t even Jewish. He had just moved to Brooklyn from Boulder, was a member of a bluegrass band, and his girlfriend (also not Jewish) turned him on to Andy Statman (apparently, she was a die-hard Grisman fan, so she got a hold of the stuff that he and Grisman did together). Anyway, when he moved to Brooklyn, he heard a rumor that Andy lives in Brooklyn, so he looked him up in the phone book and called him. Andy was happy to hear from a fan, and invited him to start coming to his gigs.

        Another time, it was this all female Danish klezmer band (I think most of them were non Jewish). After the show was over, Andy let them get up and show some of their chops.

        And I must agree with Q. Charles St. is nowhere near the East Village. It’s in the West Village, where the streets begin to resemble an MC Escher painting.

        • MCR

          “There is a man in charge there who identifies himself as the gabbai (The Rabbi, he told me, has been dead for some time). ”

          Oh. My. G-d.

          Herman Lowenhar, the “man in charge,” the shul’s president-for-life and is a psychopathic liar. His irrational, hateful behavior turned a vibrant shul into a graveyard and ruined the career of an idealistic young Rabbi.

          In 1983-84, a young rabbi named Tuli Neuman had attracted a dynamic, diverse young crowd to Charles Street. He was smart, gave great siurim, and did incredible outreach work. I know–I was there. We were getting nearly 100 people in that small shul and it was great.

          Then in May 1984, the board, under Herman’s direction, decided for no apparent reason to kick us all out, sending all the young members notices that their memberships had been terminated, and fired Rabbi Neuman and refused to pay him over $20,000 owed to him. The case was brought to a beit din, which sided with the Rabbi and those whose membership in the shul had been revoked by Herman and the board. Somehow the case made it into the secular courts, and the Attorney General of NY State sided with Rabbi Neuman as well.

          Rabbi Neuman is alive and well but no longer seeks a pulpit after being dissillusioned by this. The Beit Din ruled that no Orthodox Rabbi is permitted to accept a pulpit at this shul until Rabbi Neuman has been paid, a ruling that is in effect to this day.

          That’s the real reason why there’s no Rabbi there.

          I agree, Heshy. Such a shul shouldn’t exist.

        • Alter Cocker

          I’m really confused about this Andy Statman stuff.

  • Most comfortable chabad house:

    I have been to the Chabad House of Ann Arbour.
    The couches happen to be in the woman’s section ofthe shull.
    Wondering what you were doing there!

  • best shul to get laid…

    …Not sure. Where is your mama. A $e$ber at?

  • Phantom

    It’s been a few years since I’ve been, but Best kiddush: Post hashkama minyan at KJ on the Upper East Side. There’s a parsha shiur after minyan and then everyone goes to some guys apartment across the street. Amazing food and a fantastic selection of scotch.

  • http://abitoflight.blogspot.com sharona

    I’ve been to several kinds here are there. When I was in Kew Gardens Hills, I went to a small shul called Keter Israel, near main street. It is very Friendly, especially this couple I know, who are very welcoming BH. In the afternoon, I went with the couple I know to their friends house, who are an eclectic group of diff individuals – I felt like I blended in, had great time with this chevra BH

    I also like in LA, Pacific Jewish Center, Westwood Kehilla, and the Jewish Learning Exchange. I live near the latter one, at it has diff types of Jews (Mod, Lit, Chas) davening together.

  • TN

    Shul with the weirdest entrance: sherith israel, nashville,tn… The entrance is in the front of the shul. So if you are late everyone knows

  • Eli

    Great list! You had me on the floor with some of them :-)
    Do kosher restaurants next! (dirtiest, strangest menu, cheapest, friendliest, hottest waitresses etc.)

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      That is one of the best ideas I have heard in a while – I think I may do it all about other things but not food.

  • Yitz

    Really enjoyed your list. I felt like adding a bunch of my own, but yours were too good to compete with.

  • ghottistyx

    Here’s one. Quickest Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Davening, and Slowest Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur davening.

    My choices:
    Quickest- my friend Efraim is Mizrahi (Iraqi, pt. Egyptian). When I was in YU, he had his own Wathiqin (Vasikin, for you Ashkenazim) minyan. Rosh Hashana by him was altogether no more than 2.5 hours.

    Slowest- Back to my friend Efraim, when he was in Porath Yosef (which is in the Old City right next to the Kotel), I remember sitting with him in the Rova at 10pm, and he told me that his Yeshiva had JUST FINISHED Ne’ilah no less than 30 minutes beforehand. WOW!

  • outoftown

    Loudest talkers: I gotta say Sasrogen (sp?) in Flatbush, something like M & E24th, around there. I had the misfortune a few times and I was actually flabbergasted. It seemed like the actual majority of the room wasn’t even davening, rather discussing the financial markets.

  • ghottistyx

    Quickest Shabbos Davening: For those of you who’ve been to the Kotel on a shabbos, everyone knows about Gabi’s minyan, AKA The Gabi Express. They start at 9am, and never go past 11am. People have quoted Rav Bina saying that Gabi davens with more kavvanah any given day than the average person does on Yom Kippur.

  • Teaneck & Toyrah

    Mt Sinai in Wash Hts has the least amt of legroom (in the women’s section at least) that I’ve ever experienced. It’s horrendous

  • Max

    Most minyanim on Shabbos morning: BAYT in Toronto. Eight minyanim scattered throughout the building every shabbos!

  • Hottest Waitresses

    Taam Tov in the diamond district has pretty hot waiters; Corner Cafe in Riverdale isn’t bad either

  • Revach

    You haven’t been to a friendly shul until you’ve visited “The Shul” in Bal Harbor, FL.

    You’d think that a shul surrounded by such luxury would be more on the snob end of the spectrum, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

    It’s open to all walks of Judaism, Rabbi Lipsker and his various children/nephews/relatives are bright, wonderful, open-minded people, and you can’t beat the eye candy in the balcony.

    There are break-off kiddush clubs going on all over the place (you need to know where to look!) and The Shul hosts a weekly kiddush with a decent spread.

    The davening kind of shleps, but the seats are movie theatre style comfortable, and there’s always something going on when you need to take a break. If you’re ever in the Bal Harbor area for shabbos, I strongly recommend a visit.

  • Carmen

    On topic of Bal Harbor – there is a Young Israel there – wins award for Best kiddush – foodwise, you’re not going to find a better kiddush anywhere. They usually have meatballs, chicken satay, chulents, kugels, sushi, cured meats…everything you can imagine. Trouble is, the location is tiny and hard to find (on top of a failed bank), and full of old people, so getting the food is a trial.

    Too bad the rabbi gives such boring, pedantic drashas, because this otherwise would be a keeper. But in the same way you write that most Young Israels are boring, this place fits the mold. Except for the fact that the gabbay is under investigation for being the lynchpin to the largest Ponzi scheme to ever hit Florida…

  • http://alarbean.wordpress.com/ DrumIntellect

    Rudest Shul(?) Participants & Shul most likely to be bumped into (literally): 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213

    • Zvi Lampert

      Ever been to Chaim Berlin on Simchas Torah?

  • EK

    Heshy, just about every campus Chabad house (and I’m sure many non-campus Chabad houses) has couches in the womens section, Ann Arbor isn’t unique. I was recently at a campus Chabad house that also has a couch in the mens section.

    Also, in the Chabad house in Delray Beach, Florida, they don’t daven nusach ashkenaz, but most of the minyan comes 15 minutes early for “Brochos.”

  • HannaH

    the only reason DAT of colorado has such an awkward entrance is becuase it is A SCHOOL LUNCH ROOM!!!!

  • Boris

    Add to your unfriendly shul list, any shul in Brighton Beach if you are not an attractive young Russian with money to donate.

  • NotoriousIAB

    Shul with the most Minhagik Minhags

    Congregation Shearith Israel
    The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. They have so many mihagim, they had a book published to emplain them. The gabbai or whatever their name is for the gabbi wears a top hat. The rabbi and chazanim wear priest’s robes.

  • Jayman

    Stupidest lighting:
    Adass Yeshurun in Johannesburg, South Africa.
    When they moved into their new location, they brought the old mini-chandeliers from the old shul. These cast yellow lights on the ceiling. In addition, however, they put in two long lines of white flourescent lights running the entire length of the shul ceiling. All Shabbos and Yom Tov, the lights are on, with the yellow lights from the mini-chandeliers and the white ones from the flourescent lights. But that’s not all. They also have skylights, letting inn the natural light! Such a colossal waste of electricity!

  • anon

    Keter in Portland, Or is pretty friendly!

  • JIH

    How did you miss the Hampton Synagogue which could enter in a number of categories. Certainly, its kiddush is one of the best in the country!

  • partyrabbi

    You missed a few gems.We’ll chalk it up to you leaving TIUNY too soon and not getting pshat because of it.
    St Regis changes with every rabbi not to mention the fact that the members keep getting older and craggier. When I went to Rochester, and gave the weekly youth groups in Regis, it was a warm friendly place and I got invited out almost every week. All the Bingo volunteers davened there and and I can’t remember a gloomy moment(yes I’m biased by the inclusion that I got real Shabbos food every week).
    I think that the Yeshiva’s conflict with more than one Rabbi at the shul was reminded to the Kehilah via the appearance of bochurim from time to time.However, after walking almost a half hour from Park Ave to those great big oak doors on a snowy Saturday morning,the shul seemed cozy and friendly anyway.

    Besser Shteeble on 84th btwn West End and Riverside has such a full Kiddush that lunch is never required, not to mention the fact that they walk around from person to person and serve you.

    Young Israel in Bal Harbor puts out a very appealing spread after davening.

    The Shul of Bal Harbor throws a wedding style buffet after davening albeit the food is pretty tasteless.(old people = low sodium)

    If you want to see a mixed crowd, check out Rabbi Twersky’s shul in Milwaulkee .

    Boca Raton boasts a very modern mix of polo shirts, shorts and crocs for Mincha on Shabbos and the world’s most eclectic mix of Jews in their hybrid”shteeble”minyan.

    If its noise you want than you need to check out Sosreigen in Midwwod. You can hear them(The Sultans of Sosreigen)from outside, clear as a bell, with all the windows closed and the A/C units blasting.

    Finally, the snootiest shul in the world is the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. I got my hand slapped for attempting to pick up a piece of cake with my hands”We do the serving here young man.You don’t just take take take….”

  • Elizabeth NJ Community Member

    Clearly you have not experienced the complete and utter dysfunction of Elizabeth…… total dictatorship where only one shul is allowed on each side of Town and the rabbi in the Hillside shul publicly embarrasses people from the pulpit….that could be because he really has nothing ever to say and his speeches are all read off of a paper and usually are about football or some amazing and “true” event that miraculously happens to him every week that perfectly ties in with the parsha……this is the tip of the iceberg….there is plenty more dysfunction to talk about but then we would be here all day! You need to experience this nut house and guarantee it will top every category on your list of weird and dysfunctional shuls….

  • Elizabeth NJ Community Member

    Ohhhh how could I forget!!! Our kiddushes include bananas, stale wafers, and “chulent ” made with turnips, mushrooms, and pepper LOTS OF PEPPER….and that’s pretty much it! I guarantee you never heard of a kiddush like that before! Get me out of this crazy place!

  • http://comic-strip.org Miriam B.

    Best Kiddush and Nicest Masgiach: Bal Harbour Shul, Surfside, Florida

  • http://arttzaddikim.blogspot.com Miriam B.

    Most Women Converts-wanna-be-married Shul: Mostly all of So. FLA

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  • whuuu

    Shul With the Most delicious Kiddish Served Every Shabbat: Edmond J. Safra on the UES.

  • Israel

    Yup its Zechariah again
    What did you say about those hookers heels….hummmm

    The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
    And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
    And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.