Jewish Springfield and the Lathrop House B&B
Note to our non-Jewish guests: You don't have to be Jewish to stay at the Lathrop House! But for those who are....
(See candle-lighting times below)
Where do our kosher guests come from? Israel ( Haifa, Jerusalem, Efrat, Rehovot, and elsewhere) Kew Gardens, Monsey, Plainview, Brooklyn, Bensonhurst, Far Rockaway, Longmeadow, Suffern, Manhattan, Seattle, Memphis, West Orange,Ohio, Lakewood, London, West Hartford,Canada, Ft. Lee, Brookline, Chicago, Flushing, Highland Park, Teaneck, the Bronx, Arlington, Newark, Woodmere, Scarsdale, New Haven, Bergenfield, Riverdale, Far Rockaway, Phoenix, New Hyde Park, Passaic, Bergenfield, Livingston, Cedarhurst, Boston,Woodridge, Cherry Hill, Newburyport, Berkeley, Marseille, Seattle, Brighton, Mt. Laurel, Miami Beach, White Plains, West Hempstead....
"Simply marvelous- the decor, the wonderful books, the sumptuous breakfast and above all, the true hospitality."..."Warm, charming, luxurious- in a way which is unparallelled by the best hotels" ---Shelly, Jerusalem, Israel
"Thanks for everything you've done for me in the short time that we have known, I wish you all the happiness in the world!!" --- Einav, Eilat
"Thanks for all your warm hospitality and the homely feeling." --- Natalie and Eyal, Tel Aviv
The Lathrop House, during the 1950’s and 1960’s, was, first, home to Reform Sinai Temple and then to the Lubavitch Yeshiva.
It continues its Jewish tradition by now being the home of the Lathrop House Bed & Breakfast.
See the Bris of Levi Yitzhak!
See Activites for kids and adults listed at bottom of this page at http://www.jewishcultureconnect.com/
Below: Lighting the Menorah on Court Square, 2010: Rabbis Edelman, Davis ( speaking) and Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.
"My wife & I stayed at Lathrop House B&B for 3 nights and enjoyed being treated as superstars by proprietor. The accommodations were first class, especially the incredibly luxurious bed. I looked forward to the great breakfasts, especially when accompanied by the tomatoes freshly picked from the garden. It was a thoroughly enjoyable stay. The Hershkowitz's from Lakewood, NJ" -Review at www.bedandbreakfast.com
More Kosher guest comments below....
The Lathrop House proudly features
the KosherLamp and King David Coffee
The Lathrop House is ideal for Shomer Shabbat guests. Situated two blocks from the Forest Park community shul of B'Nai Torah, a modern Orthodox shul (413-567-0036) whose new rabbi, Max Davis, formerly of Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley, CA, is now officiating at the B'nai Torah main sanctuary, two miles away in Longmeadow.
Our B&B neighborhood, guests, and community are now led in services by Chabad Rabbi Yaakov Wolff (413-348-4978) who served the Beth Israel shul in Longmeadow for thirteen years. Rabbi Davis now leads all three daily services there during the week. Rabbi Wolff also teaches at the Lubavitch Yeshiva Academy and the very fascinating classes of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI).Guests may find it of interest that though the main building that was Kodimoh in our immediate neighborhood on Sumner Avenue now is a church, a vibrant minyan continues to meet in the beit midrash part of the building through a separate entrance and that portion of the building is considered halachically separate from the church side. Please feel free to contact Rabbi Wolff at 413-348-4978 to verify, as he leads services here, or Rabbi Davis at 413-567-0036, who is also here occasionally but mainly serves B'nai Torah in Longmeadow. We want to make your Shabbat experience perfect and we may have another suggestion for you! Please email us if you have any questions. Shabbat services right nearby on Sumner Avenue in Forest Park include Mincha/Maariv - Kabbalat Shabbat,Shabbat Shacharit, Shabbat Mincha, Rabbi's class, Women's reading of Nevi'im, Seudah Schlishit, Maariv, and Havdalah. There are also Lubavitch women’s shiurim on Saturday afternoons and a parsha class for elementary school age girls.
Rabbi Wolff leads services on Shabbat at 124 Sumner Avenue on September 3, 17 and 24.
Other synagogues within walking distance (1/2 to one hour walk) are Conservative congregations Beth El, the Lubavitch Yeshiva/home of Chabad of Greater Springfield, and Reform Sinai Temple. There is a Mikveh in Longmeadow which we are happy to schedule for you with advance notice, please. You can either enjoy your meals at the dining room table and we can also let the community know that you would like to dine with them; invitations are almost always forthcoming, if you let us know more than a week in advance, please. Stop 'N Shop in East Longmeadow has a kosher bakery, a large selection of Kosher cheeses, some kosher deli, etc. Costco in Enfield has a large selection of pastries and some prepared frozen meat dishes and deli.
The Jewish Community Center is just around the edge of Forest Park, and a forty minute drive north to Amherst will bring you to the National Yiddish Book Center, with its many film, lecture and musical offerings. Another 15 minutes north to South Deerfield, (or 40 minutes in a bee-line from us) serious book lovers will want to visit Schoen Books, a book store-repository of filled with Jewish literature and history in all languages except Yiddish. It's like the B&B of book stores--when you leave, the owners will be your newest friends. Contact Ken Schoen and Jane Trigere (www.trigere.com) before you go to the
Old Firehouse, 7 Sugarloaf Street
South Deerfield, Massachusetts 01373 USA
Thank you, Miriam, and Meier, for bringing your beautiful family and ruach into my home!
While there is no Kosher restaurant in Springfield, the JCC offers sandwich and soup lunches, and supermarkets nearby like Costco and Stop & Shop are well stocked with Kosher deli and baked goods (Stop & Shop in East Longmeadow: Pas Yisrael.) In addition, there is a selection of Kosher caterers, listed at Kodimoh.org. Yosi caterers, who caters for the JCC, will package and deliver delicious meals (860-688-6677). Breakfast which is always provided to guests and is available at any hour. If you would like Halav Israel products or a parve breakfast instead of dairy, please let us know in advance. Local friends and family of our guests are welcome to join for breakfast for free.
Guests are welcome to bring their own prepared food and warm it in our oven, to enjoy in our dining room for Shabbat dinner and lunch. We do ask that you bring all your own serving utensils, warming trays, ritual items (candles, Challah, Kiddush cup, Havdalah items, wine and grape juice) and the paper and plastic tableware. We make our dining room available and appreciate your contirbuting to the cleanup. Our house is stocked with washing cups, tissues, and Kosher lamps, and when you arrive on Friday, you are welcome to let us know/arrange whatever lighting will best suit your needs. An eruv can be set up in our back yard by request in advance but there is not one for the neighborhood.
We regret we cannot accommodate: requests for ritual items, eating in bedrooms, lighting candles in bedrooms, and we ask that you dine and sing smirot in the public rooms, not in the bedrooms, to allow for quiet enjoyment by all our guests, Jewish and non-Jewish. Also, please note that if you are phobic or allergic to cats, we cannot accommodate for these special needs; please do not ask us to put our pets away. A two-night stay is requested for all guests reserving for Friday night.Please see our FAQ page for our policies regarding parents'responsibilities when bringing their children.
We look forward to answering any additional questions you may have, and to welcoming you for Shabbat in our friendly, beautiful residential neighborhood where walks on Saturday afternoon and relaxing on our porch, in our garden, and in our public rooms as well as your bedrooms will afford you a quiet, pleasant and memorable visit to the Springfield Jewish community.
Diana Henry HOME
The Lathrop House B&B firstname.lastname@example.org
188 Sumner Avenue 413-736-6414
Springfield, MA 01108 413-374-2896
“Diana - Thank you for a lovely, relaxing Shabbat. Your home is beautiful and welcoming - as are you. P.S. Good luck with the Eruv!” –Mark and Rama, Brunswick, NJ
“Toesie was great. She did not scratch anybody. Diana the same. Thanks for everything.” –Milton and Fran P. Staten Island, NY “Eitan: “I had a very good time at this house. I loved very much.” Yoshua/Dani/Ayelet: “You are the best having us over. Thanks so much--. p.s. big house!!” Miri/Yoni: “Thank you for having us.” Elisheva: “Dear Diana, thank you for having us.”
“We had a wonderful stay & you really extended yourself to make us feel at home over Shabbat. You were a wonderful hostess! Hope you make it to Israel soon! Thank you so much!” Miriam and Allen – Teaneck, NJ
“We had a great time here. Diana Henry is quite the hostess!! We came with over 5 children and my brother & sister-in-law and their 6 children and my parents (17 people) and there was plenty of room in this magnificent house!” Glenn & Debby – Bergenfield, NJ
“Thank you so much for the lovely Yom Kippur! What a wonderful way to pass the holiday! Thank you again for the recommendation about Forest Park! Love, Kirstin and Yossi” South Hadley, MA
Heard in the Bagel Store: Walking The Walk by Larry Gordon in the Five Towns Jewish Times
It’s a July Shabbos in New England. It’s not too far from home, but at the same time it is worlds away. At first sight, it appears peaceful and pleasing to the eyes. It is a quaint New England town, cars passing not so quickly down not so busy main streets. The American flag still flies from the front porches and front windows of many homes on these tree-lined blocks in the afterglow of Independence Day on July Fourth. It’s a beautiful piece of everyday America.
It’s Springfield, Massachusetts, about 150 miles outside of New York City, which means that if not for the usual heavy traffic one could make the drive in less than two-and-a-half hours. I’m here for a change of pace, to get away from in front of my computer, to see how another part of Jewish America lives, to do this story, and to attend the back end of the internationally famous Brimfield Antiques Show, which ran through last Sunday. And that’s the correct order of reasons that I spent last weekend here.
Like so many other things I do, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to take off, as we looked around at the old Five Towns homestead and no one was around except us folks. My interest in Springfield was piqued earlier this summer by one Diana Henry who called about a kosher bed-and-breakfast she hosts in one of the most majestic areas of this part of the country, a place that conjures images of George Washington and the historic years when America gained its independence more than 230 years ago.
When I finally decided that it might be a nice experience to spend a weekend in Springfield and finally get a firsthand look at Brimfield, I called Diana. She would have wanted us to spend Shabbos with her, but because of the Brimfield event her inn was sold out up until Saturday night. My next foray was into the thicket of Chabad emissaries in Springfield, and my Google search led me to Chaim Kosofsky. The rest was both easy and intriguing. My first call to Chaim was to inquire about where else we could possibly stay in proximity to a Shabbos minyan (and some food).
He immediately suggested Diana’s place—The Lathrop House Bed & Breakfast—which is about three blocks from the Kesser Israel shul, but it didn’t look like that was going to work. When I told him that, he said that the next choice was “home hospitality.” I asked him where that was located and he said, “Right here in our home.” I was reluctant to impose, but he quickly convinced me that we were quite welcome, and that first conversation led to a series of calls back and forth over the next few hours about any special accommodations we might need, what we liked or did not like to eat, and so on.
Chaim did warn me that he lived a two-mile walk from the shul, which is located in the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Springfield, but I told him that I was up for the task. We showed up a few hours before Shabbos with another couple (he was expecting them, too) and we were made extremely welcome and quite comfortable.
Though a relatively short distance from the metropolitan centers of the New York area, Springfield is middle America. Among other things, this means that the fashion in which Yiddishkeit is practiced is going to have attached to it, in many instances, some unusual nuances. At the same time, all these years later one is able to observe and gain a further appreciation for some of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s brilliance in constructing this vast network of emissaries who place themselves, and build their lives and the lives of their families, frequently in the middle of what looks like nowhere—so as to be a beacon of Jewish life for Jews who by this time would otherwise be disenfranchised.
One of the problems in Springfield these days is that the old traditional Jewish lifestyle is dissipating. Children have grown up and either moved away or to an extent assimilated. Despite the scattered nature of the community, the Chabad rabbis in town continue to offer an extensive array of educational programs that, while attracting few in number, have made a dramatic impact on local families here.
Still, the unfortunate reality is that two of three Orthodox shuls will be closing after the upcoming holidays and consolidating into one new congregation. It was no doubt a difficult decision, but the three shuls are extremely large and located on sprawling properties. I saw two of them, and the capacity of each is probably close to 500 people. On an average Shabbos, I was told, each attracts perhaps up to 30 congregants. I remember shuls of this size back in the old Crown Heights going through similar experiences. In those days, people moved away, and opening shtiebel shuls was the order of the day. The big shuls were empty and it was only a matter of time before they would have to close their doors and sell the building.
The interesting thing about Springfield is that its Jewish character is evident wherever you turn. There is extensive housing for retired Jewish seniors, a Jewish Community Center, a Holocaust Museum, and so on. In addition to the three large Orthodox shul buildings I mentioned, there are equally impressive Conservative and Reform synagogues/temples in the area. What’s lacking is any kind of conventional yeshiva community that could lend itself to a form of sustained growth that might develop into a larger community.
That is not the typical Chabad experience, especially in an isolated area like Springfield, Mass. In the Chabad model, when a family becomes observant it usually means that it’s time to get them out of town to a place where Jewish life is more developed, where there are yeshivas and the other necessities of big city and communal Jewish life where their families can flourish. As a result, places like Springfield remain relatively small and religiously rural.
Despite the growth problems in this part of Springfield, there is no shortage of drive or energy on behalf of the local sh’luchim of the Rebbe. On Friday night after shul, we asked Chaim Kosofsky, our host, whether there is a shortcut we could take to reduce the length of the walk. He said there is, but that he prefers to walk the long way with his kids (and in this case with us, his guests). He said that by taking the longer route, more people can see that a Jew chooses to observe Torah law by walking on Shabbos rather than driving. He said he was personally struck by this idea some years ago, when he was walking home on a hot summer evening and a woman in a car pulled alongside him and his family, rolled down her window, and said that she thought that “this was a wonderful sight to see.”
Rabbi Kosofsky and his wife, Rachel Leah, along with his brother Noach and several others spend much of their time working on the yeshiva, which has been recognized by professional organizations for its excellence in education. At present there are about 100 students enrolled in the yeshiva. These are the kids of local people, obviously, who want their children’s education to be high quality but also want a Judaic element injected into that process. Rabbi Kosofsky says that some students travel up to two hours to get to the yeshiva.
When I first walked into the shul on Friday night, the first thing I saw on the wall was a photograph of a young rabbi teaching pupils in a classroom. The photo caption says the year was 1946, the place was Springfield—and the young rabbi was my uncle, Sholom Ber Gordon, of blessed memory. He left Springfield a few years later for Newark and then Maplewood, New Jersey. Today, the Edelman family is most prominent in Jewish educational life in Springfield, as it has been for about 60 years. The senior Rabbi Edelman, now 82 years old, has been in Springfield since 1951. His children hold key rabbinical and educational positions in the city, and his daughter is married to the Rabbi Noach Kosofsky (Chaim’s older brother), who runs the yeshiva.
It was an enlightening Shabbos with good people and good food as well as a splendid kiddush dotted with divrei Torah that inspired us and made us feel at home. We met good people, such as the Kosofskys and Edelmans as well as personalities like Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Simenowitz, a lawyer, excellent ba‘al tefillah, and maple-syrup farmer who spends part of his week on his farm in the woods of Vermont.
It doesn’t get better than the pure goodness of these fine people who long for nothing more than to do a good deed for the next person. And that deed can be as simple as teaching him or her alef-beis or hosting them for an extraordinary Shabbos.
By:_ Larry Gordon - 19/07/2007
2008 and 2009 Sukkahs
2009 saw the creation of a majestic 8x16 foot sukkah with eight foot high walls ...in the shelter of the house, out from under the trees, and a few steps from the kitchen, for guests who like to stay over and celebrate the holiday in style!
Details at: www.JewishCultureConnect.com
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