Dr. Edward Burns Remembers:
The Einstein synagogue in the 1970’s represented little more than a beachhead of communal observance within a larger community of interested but uncommitted students. Contrasting it with today’s community paints a stark contrast. The shul was located in the Mazer building, the former student dormitory, comprised of two connected dorm rooms. It was used primarily for weekday services and, with its table and four chairs, as a small beit medrash. The observant community was comprised of some 25-30 men and about 15-20 women. Only about half of the men, and very few women participated in services regularly. Few medical students were married, and there were few children. There was no rabbi and no shiurim. For Shabbat and Yom Tov, many students walked to the Young Israel of Astor Gardens, across Pelham Parkway for services and divrei Torah. Since family life was scarce, most local students went home for Shabbat and invited their friends, both men and women, to their homes. Shabbos at Einstein was a minimalist experience at best.
The contrast with today’s vibrant community, with daily minyanim, shiurim, learning sedarim and over a hundred men, women and beautiful children coming to Shabbat services is amazing. The Einstein Synagogue has truly ascended a marvelous path and is creating its own history thanks to RIETS, an affiliate of Yeshiva University, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Bienenfeld, Mr. and Mrs. Mordechai Katz, and Yeshiva University Women’s Organization who financially supported our excellent rabbonim, Rabbis Yaakov Neuberger, Avrohom Kanarek, Chanoch Waxman, Kalman Topp, Josh Blass, Alexander Mondrow, and Tzvi Sinensky.
Dr. Fred Rosner Remembers:
I was a member of the first class at Einstein when it opened its doors in September 1955. There were 53 men and 3 women in my class… The faculty was somewhat perplexed by the three of us who wore our yarmalkus for the full four years to establish a precedent for future classes …. We were known as the three musketeers. There was no shul at the school, but I davened at the Young Israel of Astor Gardens. The cafeteria food was kosher, but it was located in a storefront on Morris Park Avenue. Lubin had not been built…. There was not much observant Jewishness about the school except that Dr Belkin, then president of Yeshiva University, gave Dean Marcus Kogel a list of the Yomim Tovim on which the school must be closed in addition to shabbos. Many of the initial faculty were openly Jewish, but were not observant, save one or two. They did not know what YU stood for. Nevertheless, a room was given to the students in one of the dorm buildings for a synagogue and it was very active from its beginning with not only davening but torah learning and great speakers.… If I had to do it all over again I would choose Einstein because of its excellence and the credo of the university Torah U’Maddah … all for the greater glory of the Lord, may He be blessed.