Andrea Karshan's Articles, Crown Heights, Jewish, violence

When a Crown Heights Shul Tolerates Violence, Threats and Assaults Happen

There should be no tolerance for violence at shuls or Jewish events.

I have been to several shuls and Jewish events where violence has been a problem. At the shuls and events, the staff intervened, stopped the violence and then people were barred from coming back. That’s the way that most organizations handle things. But one place is different.

The shul Chevra Ahavas Yisroel, at 306 Albany Ave in Crown Heights, has always been a place that has been known for accepting everyone. It is a liberal Chabad synagogue. Many in Crown Heights look down on it because of some of the things they claim goes on there. Chevra Ahavas Yisroel attracts some real crazies to their shul. That is because people know that they can get away with behavior there that they can’t get away with elsewhere. They also know no matter what they do they won’t be barred.  Some people who go there have been barred from other shuls and events. If they didn’t have CAY to go to they wouldn’t have a place in Crown Heights to daven. Despite this, I always loved the shul. I was a member and volunteered there regularly. There were many great things about the shul that made me overlook its shortcomings. But then the violence at the shul affected me and I had to think twice about coming back.

Safety at the shul is a problem. Some people who have come to the shul have been in the past and are presently violent. Fights have broken out in the shul, people have been threatened and assaulted there. I have seen several people assaulted during Shabbats and Yom Tovs. Members of the shul will try to break up the fights but the police are never called and no one is ever barred. Therefore, the violent people keep coming back and repeating the behavior.

Now I also have been threatened. A girl tried to physically attack me several times at the shul. It has now escalated to the point that she says she will kill me if she sees me on the streets of Crown Heights. I have consulted a rabbi, and I will not be returning to the shul because it is unsafe for me to be there.

I want to add that at every shul there are different personalities. Not everyone gets along.Sometimes people argue. But this is the only shul that I  have attended that I see it get to this point. And if things are escalating at other shuls I go to the shul right away shuts it down. That being said, someone from the shul needs to start shutting down this type of behavior when it happens. However they need to. Whether it be telling people they need to leave (and perhaps that they can’t come back), calling the cops or whatever. This stuff shouldn’t be going on. It is uncalled for.

If Chevra Ahavas Yisroel won’t control this, someone from the community needs to step in and say enough is enough we don’t want this at a shul here in Crown Heights.

Update:I want to add something to this story. 90% of the threats and assaults I saw at the synagogue are done by intoxicated people. There were times when Kiddush was over that I suggested that the liquor be locked up because I saw things were getting out of hand. No one listened. In addition, I spoke to the synagogue several times since I first witnessed the violence about changing their barring policy. My opinions fell on deaf ears. 


  1. y. hh.

    Try any Shul OUTSIDE of Crown Heights / Chabad. Like a Jewish Shul. Not a fakeJew-News Chabad Shul where anything goes. Go to any Shul in Flatbush. See what a Jew is supposed to daven and look like.

  2. Hit home

    I was assaulted by a drunk girl I met at ahavas yisroel. It wasn’t actually at the shul, but it was a melava malka with a lot of people from there. She came at me and started throwing punches until people had to hold her back. I honestly never expected a jew to do that to another jew. I was in shock, and a lot of residual pain even a few months afterward.

  3. It’s unfortunate this happened to you however I have been to Chevra Ahavas Yisroel many times over the years and never personally saw people fighting sober or drunk.
    That being said people who get violent while drunk should not be allowed to drink.
    If someone hurts others in shul or otherwise he/she should apologize, pay compensation if needed, get anger management counseling or the like. If the person does this multiple times the shul should get a no trespass order against him/her. The shul is not a jungle for wild animals.


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