Brooklyn Heights Synagogue’s Rabbi Rick Jacobs spent the night with un-housed men

B’klyn Heights synagogue marks three decades of helping homeless

The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

SINGING PRAISES: Heights residents tout the shelter.
PUT ‘ER THERE: Councilman Steve Levin gave a proclamation to the synagogue.
DROP-IN: Borough President Adams spoke at the event.
HOUSE-WARMING: Jeff Kurzon and Sasha Burgansky celebrate at the dinner following the services.
CHOW DOWN: Congregants enjoy a buffet after the ceremony.
MORE FORTUNATE: Andy Goldman and Gail Ressler get some grub after the speechifying.
EAT SPOT: Sue Gold, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, cuts the cake at the celebration.

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue celebrated three decades of helping homeless people last week.

The synagogue houses a homeless shelter and the shelter’s founder, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, acknowledged the anniversary by getting to work, spending the night on Thursday setting up beds and sleeping alongside his less-fortunate guests. Jacobs got interested in battling homelessness in the 1980s and said things have not gotten better since then.

“Thirty years later, the epidemic of homelessness has not abated and the need for safe shelter is as urgent as ever,” Jacobs said in a statement.

The synagogue on Remsen Street provides warm beds and hot meals to 10 men four nights a week. It usually runs during the cold months, starting in November and ending in May. Last year it lent a hand to 566 people in need. The number is impressive for an all-volunteer effort, but seems minuscule when compared to the 53,000 New Yorkers who spend the night in shelters across the city each night, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

“We knew that it wouldn’t dent the problem of homelessness in our city,” Jacobs said. “But we felt it a necessary measure.”

About 250 people volunteer at the shelter each year, and not all of them come from the synagogue, an organizer said.

“Families, children, and teens contribute as volunteers, each doing what they can,” said Andrea Feller, a volunteer coordinator for the shelter. “We have a wide reach within Brownstone Brooklyn.”

People in need of shelter are brought to the synagogue by bus from Camba, the Brooklyn-based social service agency. In addition to providing food and shelter, the synagogue takes pride in offering homeless men companionship and conversati­on.“We have to open up our hearts, our minds, and our synagogue,” said Anne Landman, shelter’s other coordinator. “People need help right now.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Marsha Rimler from brooklyn heights says:
A wonderful event. to recognize volunteers in a 30 year old shelter. I especially like Borough President
Eric Adams plea for One Brooklyn. We are all neighbors and must strive to spread prosperity throughout our Brooklyn. remember.. this is not a zero sum game.. increasing prosperity is the goal
Jan. 21, 2014, 7:41 am

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