Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, the rabbi of Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills in Queens, NY, and a member of both the Queens Rabbinical Council and the Rabbinical Council of America, gave a special Arutz Sheva interview this week about his community.
The Kew Garden Hills community "has been growing since the 1950s," he began, noting his father opened the Young Israel branch in 1951. At its peak, the shul reached 5-600 people.
The community started out small.
"There was one pizza shop that opened; that was big news," he said. "There was one butcher shop that opened; that was big news."
Now, he noted, there are a plethora of restaurants – for example – as the community has grown. Sixty years later, there are two yeshivas, a Bais Yaakov, and a lively community of Jews of all sects and ethnicities.
He added that while giving over Torah, and facilitating Torah in his community, is rewarding, it also has challenges – including handling disputes between congregants and other community issues.
"We have to maintain a good relationship with the police, with the fire department, even," he noted.
The community has a unique Vaad HaRabanim, Schonfeld added – one which "meets on a regular basis" to discuss, and decide, community issues – including issues between Jewish communities.
The Rabbi added that while occasional anti-Semitism is an issue, "so far, it's been quiet" overall. He did express sadness, however, at "non-Orthodox" schools and synagogues closing and selling their buildings to the growing Muslim community in the area.
When incidents do occur, he said, it is dealt with "very discreetly." One recent effort, in conjunction with police, involves painting over anti-Israel graffiti in a nearby park.
"The lid on anti-Semitism has been kept, pretty much, closed," he said. "When something pops up, we're able to suppress it and push it down."