Inside Linden: A Center for Jewish Life

if you’re looking for a growing
community that’s rooted in Talmud Torah in tefillah, in chesed if you’re looking for a place that’s accessible has great location easy access to the city if
you’re looking for affordable housing if you’re just starting out this is a
tremendous place for you to begin to establish your roots and to set up your
family hi I’m rabbi Joshua Hess I’m the Rav of Anshe Chesed, happy to be here with my four kids and my aishes chayil Naava
my name is Naava Hess I’m married to rabbi Joshua Hesse we have four children
I teach kindergarten in Hillel yeshiva in Deal in the ten years that we’ve
been here we’ve made some wonderful relationships with with people the men
the women the couples and their children and their families who have really
become almost like my own family we are right in the center of everything
convenience of the location accessibility to Brooklyn
Midtown wherever they need to go even if they need to go to Lakewood or Teaneck
it’s been midpoint just being able to have an apartment a couple blocks from
the train just hop in 35 minute ride every single day to the to the city is
really convenient homes here they want to purchase a home starter homes are much
more affordable here than in many other communities there are many garden
apartments that people can rent and there are also commuter apartments right by
the train station which is really convenient we were looking around at the
communities that were nearby and this community was the most affordable and
the most central to New York and other parts of New Jersey small town feel that
Linden has where everybody knows each other and everyone in the shul is part
of one community but still be closer to the larger Jewish community and all the
amenities that it offers so we’ve bought a house here and we love it what if a
really good price and it’s craz because coming from Brooklyn it’s like
suddenly I have this patio and have a backyard and have a front yard one area
where the stroll has had a lot of success in the past with bringing in
families into the community has been the young professional sector I came here
when I started law school actually looking for an affordable place to live
that was a close commute to law school and a close commute to New York City
where my wife Samantha was in school at the time
and we found a tremendous beautiful apartment with three bedrooms with two
full bathrooms a separate living room and dining room and kitchen all
utilities included for $1,500 and then our second child was born we were ready
to buy a house we found the perfect house for us just down the street right here
in Linden and that’s how we started our family the house we have in Linden I
couldn’t get it anywhere else you know we were fortunate enough to find a
five-bedroom house three and a half bathrooms a fully finished basement
playroom library separate office I mean it’s just amazing it’s the only house in
the block right across the street from a park with a pond one of the reasons I
really love Linden is because it’s so easy to live here we have malls that are
two minutes away we have malls that are ten minutes away 20 minutes away we’re
centrally located that you know you want to go to Brooklyn we’re 45 minutes away
we’re 45 minutes from Lakewood we’re 55 minutes from from Monsey we’re 45
minutes from Teaneck we’re 25 minutes from Passaic so we’ve never we’ve never
run into any problems where we couldn’t access anything that we needed you can
go to the local store in Elizabeth one stop and buy you know whatever Shabbos
food you need a beautiful place to live when you walk down the streets in the
summer we have children playing everywhere playgrounds trees we have
three Shoprites that are local to where we live I usually go to the one in
Clark they have a huge kosher section and the Shoprite in Elizabeth also
has a huge kosher section Rabbi Hess made the bakery kosher in Shoprite and
it is beyond delicious and no one ever has any complaints about those pastries
and doughnuts and breads we go the restaurants in Elizabeth all the time I
think you know the pizza place is probably my highest charge credit card
bill every month we order from them all the time again the Chinese place Avenue
Grill they love the food portion sizes price very nice place what the kids love
though is the Rita’s you know which which Rabbi Hess gives the hashgacha to
they love going to Rita’s every week a lot of people come to Linden to go to our
local stores that we have here target Marshalls
Walmart there are lots of fun things to do in and around Linden we have some
parks with skating rinks we have a trampoline park we have lots of bowling
alleys and other things to do for children that are so close by easy to
access that there’s never a dull moment on a Sunday Rabbi Hess, as I can see followed in the
tradition of the previous rabbis that is the long serving rabbis he’s here already
10 years he has instituted learning programs here that we’ve never had
before so one of the important things that we’ve noticed in the community is
the the desire for more learning more learning opportunities B’chavrusa
having top-level top-flight speakers from YU and around grace our shul to
share divrei Torah with us there’s a YU shiur that comes I think that once
a month where we have free dinner and as well as a great shiur to go and listen
to during the school year on Tuesday evenings of this past year there were
four YU students who came and learned with a group of us at different levels
we also have tremendous of programs for women as well the every month we have a
program that’s designed for women by women every Shabbos mevarchim we have a rotating group of women from the community who give shiurim Rabbi Hess is
always there for whatever you need whether it’s his formal shiurim which
he gives that people take advantage of he has a podcast every week about daf hashavua, he sends out a whatsapp message every week with a learning about a pasuk or a perek in Tanach The Rabbi and Naava are very very kind
they’re Naavas very fun and down-to-earth and they’re very approachable there’s no
such thing as like a big scary rabbi here that doesn’t know who you are
the rabbi in and rebbetzin here are your friends Nava is amazing with all the
duties that she has all that she does she’s very involved here supervising the
mikvah one of the greatest projects that we did was build the mikvah so the rabbi
along with other people actually worked so hard in building the mikveh and Nava
is one of our star mikvah ladies and without her we we wouldn’t have a
successful mikvah I was determined to make sure that we get it built because
we needed it for our community and for our future growth the the planning took
some time getting the location finding the right spot everything took a little
bit of time it went a little slower than I would have liked to have taken but
ultimately we identified the location we got the plans and as you can see our
mikvah has been built and our community has grown tremendously one of the things that attracted us to
Linden was the community and the amount of programs that allows everybody to
kind of come together so social programming there’s a yearly
wine-tasting and sukkah hop and there’s paint nights social barbecue in the
beginning of the year which is great for everyone of all ages a lot of events
throughout the year that’s great for adults great for children we have a big
Chanukkah party we have a giant Purim seudah community-wide which people always say is the greatest Purim is just just fantastic the adults and the kids come
and all dress up and give Mishloach manot to each other and the shul gives
out the mishloach manot as well one of the great things also is we have a
kiddush after shul every Shabbat morning and we have different sponsors every
single week and people just kind of stay and hang out and you can speak to people
that are your good friends and you can also spend some time meeting new people
and making some new friends from the first you know week that we came here we
found out about the Shabbos Park and that’s where all of the families go to
this specific Park it’s pretty centrally located and the parents you know
can sit at the picnic table or bring picnic blankets and the kids are kind of
playing around on all the different you know apparatus in the park everyone has
a great time sometimes people bring snacks they’re always sharing the snacks
and just talking and the kids come over and you know hang out with their parents
or hang out with each other and you can see a year after year every summer there
they’re kind of growing up together and making some really good friendships our
shul runs a mud run every year we do the rugged maniac which is a three-mile mud
run and obstacle course Thanksgiving is usually a family time
and you know community is an extended family and we
all get together in the we first get together in the morning and we have
Thanksgiving football where the men come out and and play in the mud and the kids
are playing on the swings and the and the women come and you know bring snacks
to everybody and then everybody goes home and preps a little bit and then
we all go out again to the fire department and we bring them pies for
Thanksgiving we get an nice tour of the fire station for all the kids they get
to go through the fire trucks and they really enjoy it and then after that we
go to the police department and do the same thing the kids make cards and it’s
a nice way to say thank you to the people that help us in our community my
husband has this Dungeons & Dragons group with his friends and it’s a huge
part of their life he spends hours preparing for the campaign and they all
come to our house and it’s a really fun event they do it motzaei Shabbos or
Sunday sometimes they can go all day or it’s up until 2:00 in the morning and
there’s food and there’s jokes and it’s fantastic so if you like that kind of
stuff come join our D&D group one of the nice things is that there is people of
all political persuasions and like at a Shabbos table you could talk about
politics and you’ll have a variety of opinions and everyone enjoys talking
about it and people don’t hate each other afterwards for it people here in
this community are really friendly non-judgmental people everyone knows
everyone’s names everyone knows everyone’s kids names and everyone here
really looks out for each other and it’s really nice I’m Steven Geltzer
this is my wife Galina Geltzer and our son Rami Rami Geltzer he was actually
born in December fourth of 2018 he had his bris right here at the shul
fortunately our community has grown so that now we have a critical mass of
young couples it’s been a wonderful experience I mean to see these kids who
I’ve had the chance to be at their bris and watch them grow from these little
tiny kids walking around they’re running around in the shul and in the ballroom
during kiddush to see them all growing up sitting next to their parents during
davening Shabbos youth groups are a very big part of our communal life one of the
first things that my husband did when we moved here was make youth groups start
from a very early age and start the minute davening starts the way our rooms
are set up on Shabbos is that each group has their own group leaders which is age
appropriate for them and there’s different programs that run Shabbos morning davening parasha playtime we really have groups for children from
infants you know all the way through almost bar mitzvah it’s just been so
great there are just so many kids my son’s age or you know or his soon to be
friends and it’s just so much fun we have playdates and our friends to be the
same period of life as our friends who also have young children I think we’ve
created an environment where the kids are thrilled to be here
so our kids started off at the Y in Union the baby goes there for daycare
the big ones go there for after-school they go there for camp they go there for
all the mini vacation programs they take swimming lessons they do basketball
soccer one of the best parts of Linden for me is the variety of schools that we
have here you can really choose whether a Montessori option is good or you want
a school like JEC or you want a school like Kushner or you need a school like sinai we have Sinai school in Kushner right here
with special ed options when we first moved in the library was brand new
they had just built it it’s two stories and there’s a wonderful children’s
section there there’s a wonderful children’s library in there and small
computers for the children to learn how to look up things on their own now my
daughter takes herself every Friday with her library backpack and sometimes you
know my other children go with her or she picks up the books that they’ve
reserved and it is so exciting for them to go the librarians know my children
by name one of the best things that I only noticed when we came to Linden is
that at the end of shul they open up the Aron and all the kids run up the
steps to go kiss the Torah and when they’re done they go shake the rabbi’s
hand and it’s really just the cutest thing boys girls and I think it’s
fantastic to have children have this real hands-on experience and to really
give our kids that like excitement and that enthusiasm learning is never done
and what better way to show that learning never ends and never stops by
learning together with your family and that’s part of the impetus for our
regular parent-child learning program that we have on motzaei Shabbos it’s been
a pleasure for me to see the growth of the kids and I call them my kids
they’re all my kids because I’ve had the chance to grow with
them and learn with them and it’s just been a pleasure to have so many kids
come through our doors and to begin and to develop and grow as bnei Torah Linden is not just a community
Linden is a home you find your friends here you find you Yiddishkeit here
you find learning here and you build a home here if you’re looking for a
community where you can have great lifelong friends you have all the
amenities of a big Jewish community you have any interest or hobby that you have
we have it here if you have a job you can get there very easily great
commuting great housing costs great yeshivas this is the community for you
what first attracted us here to Linden was that one it was extremely affordable for our lifestyle we were just starting out as a family but also it gave us the
opportunity to really shape the community into the way we wanted it to
be for our family going forward and we haven’t lost that opportunity there’s
tons of opportunities here to go ahead and make Linden or make the community what you want it to be for your family that I think distinguishes us in many ways
from many well established congregations were very happy to have young people
take a leadership role and make a difference here and be involved in
decision making be on the board become officers if you want to make a
difference as a young person this is the place for you we are a community that is
centered we are centered on Torah we are centered on Jewish values we are
centered on family we are centrally located in New Jersey we went to the OU
fair I believe it was sometime in in 2016 when we decided it was time to make
a change you know and and we spoke with with Josh Weiss and a couple of other
people that were there and and we were very very impressed with with what
Linden had to offer you know and we were down to several communities you know
Springfield Elizabeth and you know Linden for the win I think moving to
Linden was one of the best decisions that we’ve made

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