How it all began...
The shul minyan crept its way into existence approximately ten years ago. Rabbi Tzvi Gefen coordinated a Shabbos morning minyan in the Beis Hamedresh of the Yeshiva Keser Hatalmud that was then located on Rechov Ramat Hagolan. The Shabbos morning minyan flourished as word got out of a local chutznik style Shabbos Minyan at a later time than most other minyanim. By the time the Yeshiva moved out of the neighbourhood a few years later, the minyan had swelled and those who had become regulars were reluctant to let it fall away due to the lack of premises. Someone suggested requesting the use of a classroom from a University situated on Ramat Hagolan. And so an independent minyan was born. Most of the core members were British and therefore the English Minyan’s name came about and stuck.
Overcoming obstacles lack of shul furniture, Sifrei Torah, more classroom furniture than was useful, raising money for the meagre rent that was requested and much more became part of the weekly chores of the few dedicated core members, notably R’ Yosef Chaim Orzel, the shul’s first Gabbai. With tremendous Siyata Dishmaya, an Israeli carpenter offered to make a portable Ahron and Bima, Keser Hatalmud allowed the shul to use their siddurim, aliyahs brought in money for rent and dedicated community members made sure to coordinate it all so that the Shabbos morning minyan became a fixture within the local community.
As the minyan grew, core members recommended bringing in a Rav and so we were privileged to welcome Rabbi Dovid Potash Shlita as the Rov of our fledgling community. He was warmly accepted by the community and he and his wonderful Rebetzen have been a tremendous asset to the Shul. In a very short time we started having a Friday night Minyan with Divrei Torah between Mincha and Maariv.
Around this time the University left the area and we again saw the clear Yad Hashem, when the owner of the property that the university were renting from allowed us to continue in the same location on one condition; that we paid no rent.
The community blended as Israelis, Americans and other locals joined, attracted by the warmth and open welcoming community. Shabbos minyanim were busy and a new Shabbos Kollel was started by Rabbi Yakov Rubin Shlita. Once again the shul grew and despite having a generous benefactor supplying our premises we were full beyond capacity and had to start to look for a new, larger and more permanent location.
Here we hit difficulty after difficulty. Rabbi Potash raised the question of whether or not we could find a space below peoples’ living quarters. R’ Eliyashuv z”tl paskened that this was ok on a temporary basis while lhbcl”c R’ Chaim Kanevsky says this is not permitted even on a temporary basis. Rabbi Potash discussed this with the Rav of our neighbouring community, the esteemed Rabbi Yitzchok Berkovitz shlita who said that he personally went according to R’ Eliyashuv, who was the Rav of Yerushalayim, however he had had personal bad experience with this exact issue and therefore could not help with this Sheila. R’ Eliyashuv was unfortunately no longer alive and we needed this Sheila to be answered by a godal and therefore Rabbi Potash sent the question to R’ Chaim Kanevsky. Rabbi Potash phrased the dilemma and offered different solutions and to each R’ Chaim responded, “nisht kedai, nisht kedai,” and ended with a brocho for us to find new premises in a location that would not cause any issue very soon. R’ Kanevsky’s brochos were signed on Thursday 28th Sivan 5773, 6th June 2013 at 2.30 pm.
Unbeknown to Rabbi Potash the shul was actively looking into a property on the very day that the Sheila was sent. A generous benefactor had heard of the community’s difficulty and had offered to help the shul find their own premises. A suitable property came on the market just at that time and the owner, when hearing that the shul was interested, insisted on selling only to them. And so an agreement to purchase was signed on a property only a few doors away from their current address and with no issue of anyone living above the shul. This was on Thursday 28th Sivan 5773, 6th June 2013 at 3pm. Hodu LaHashem ki tov.
Renovations were underway with a fantastically dedicated team of Kobi Wolf as contractor and Shayna Mushel as designer. Originally the plans were for a one floor shul but as it became evident that this would not be enough for the growing community our generous benefactor insisted, despite personal loss, that we use two floors and have a proper Ezras Noshim thus enabling the women to have their own comfortable place to take part in our special community.
The Nishai of Sha’arei Ora have since gone meChayil el Choyil. With fabulous creativity and dedication of its team the Nishai welcomes newcomers, makes meals for those in need, has local events, hosts sheva brochos for members and offers general support to women who don’t always find it easy to find their place in the local communities so far from the places they grew up. We became a family.
Today BeChasdei Hashem the shul is fortunate to have grown beyond our wildest expectations. We now have a Friday kollel, Shabbos Kollel, PreShachris kollel, night-time kollel, Tzedaka fund given discreetly to those in need, regular shiurim, Neshai events, kiddeshim and a warm and welcoming environment for all to come and grow in their Avoidas Hashem.
The shul premises is privileged to also be the current home of (though unaffiliated to) the Centre of Kehilla Development Kollel run by the esteemed Rabbi Lawrence Keleman Shlita whose work and personal middos are an inspiration to all.
The shul is always looking for ways to better serve the community and reach out to those we can assist. We hope to expand be’ezras Hashem in future and provide as much as possible all to those around us and create a community where all truly feel they belong and are home in the Eretz Hakodesh.