Give a little, Get a lot

What is the definition of a home? To the average person their home is the place where they live. The place their mother, father, brother, & sisters all come together under one roof, support each other, love each other and grow together. This is what Minyan Shelanu is to their boys, It’s home. Where family, brothers, fathers, mentors are all looking out for one another, supporting each other through the ups and the downs that life throws at them, celebrating the good times and pushing through the tough ones.

As the Lakewood community grows, the Minyan Shelanu family grows as well. We can no longer look the other way as teens of our community fall into bad habits like drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide, assault, promiscuity, & criminal behavior. These are not just teens from other cities anymore, they are OURS, they are our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors and friends, they belong to the Lakewood community and it’s our responsibility to make sure they have a home to go to.

The Minyan Shelanu has been directly involved in saving hundreds of kids from lives of drugs and crime. Minyan Shelanu is an organization devoted to fostering unconditional acceptance of our teens and giving them the physical, emotional, and spiritual support they need to succeed in life. Minyan Shelanu becomes their family and their home.

Rabbi Chaim Yisrael Abadi founded Minyan Shelanu in 1998 for troubled teenage boys and young men who felt unaccepted in their usual Shuls to be able to daven in a warm non-judgmental atmosphere. The organization quickly grew into a full-fledged synagogue, social center, and surrogate home for hundreds of young people throughout the Lakewood community. Through its mentoring services, educational programs, mental health counseling, and more, The Minyan, as the organization is affectionately called, gives teens who may not fit the typical “mold” a safe-haven to develop and thrive within the Jewish community.

“When people walk in here, it’s a different world,” says Yossi, who comes regularly to The Minyan’s center on Ocean Avenue. “There’s no judging. You just come in, you can eat supper, you can play pool or video games, schmooze, chill. And slowly, you’ll want to be a different person. You’ll just change, because there are so many people to look up to here.”

Though it operates in a low-key manner, “The heart of the organization are the mentors, all volunteers, who have helped hundreds of kids over the years by keeping in close contact with their charges, and being available to offer a listening ear, support, and a shoulder to cry on,” says RDB, a mentor at The Minyan for many years.

The Minyan Bais Medrash is always open, with a daytime Kollel & night seder program. The building of relationships with chavrusahs and mentors is imperative to the growth of our teens. There are several daily programs including minyanim, hot meals, night seder, game room, trips, shabbatons and more, but this is not where it ends. In addition to all of the programs offered, it is not uncommon for Minyan Shelanu to send teens to drug or alcohol rehabilitation, pay for their rehab & therapy, help match them with schools and yeshivas, and even pay for school tuition. “The staff, and especially the Rabbi, will go to any length for any person in The Minyan, or anyone who needs help,” Yitzi adds. This unconditional love and support lies at the core of Minyan Shelanu’s mission. “It’s a place where everybody can come and feel loved, where there’s no judgment. We don’t look at what happened last year. We don’t look at what happened yesterday, or even earlier that day. As soon as you walk in, everyone gets a fresh start”, says Yaakov, one of the mentor volunteers. This fact is borne out in the way that teens speak about their experiences at The Minyan. “Minyan Shelanu has changed my life, and hundreds of other’s lives,” says Yitzi, a young man who has been involved in the organization for a couple of years. “They accept you for who you are, they love you for who you are, and they care for you as you are,” says Menachem, another teen who participates in The Minyan’s programs. “The Minyan is the most amazing place”, says Dov, a boy who just recently made a Siyum on his first Masechta while learning in the Minyan night seder program. “Its not my home away from home, It is my home.”

In 2012, the Girls’ division of Minyan Shelanu was created, “The Chill” as the girls affectionately refer to it, gives the Lakewood teen girls and young women who need to find their niche in life and the community at large, a safe, fun, wholesome place to hang out with their friends. Just like the boy’s division, The Chill provides activities, dinners, trips, Shabbatons, etc.

The Chill provides a safe, non-judgmental place that these girls can go to to enjoy, relax and be themselves. A place where they can find unconditional love, respect and an open ear, or just a shoulder to lean on. More than just a house, it’s a home. “The Chill has become a place for our girls to be themselves, be loved, and be heard,” says YB, the program’s director. Every year the program grows, with dinners now being offered three times per week, and the program facilitating placement into rehab centers, therapy, and schools.

When parents are unable or unwilling to pay for services that their child needs, Minyan Shelanu, both girls and boys programs, will frequently step in and shoulder these expenses. With an annual operating budget of over 1 million dollars, Minyan Shelanu relies heavily on the generosity of Lakewood and surrounding communities to help raise these funds.

This is where YOU come in.

Lag Baomer, May 23, 2019, Minyan Shelanu will be holding their annual bonfire and raffle. The entire Lakewood community is invited to come out and enjoy a beautiful night with singing, dancing, & BBQ at the biggest Lag Baomer fire in the city. As a bonus, we will be announcing the drawing of our famous yearly raffle, Lag Baomer night at the bonfire. The raffle is open to anyone whether you are at the event or not. Tickets can be purchased on their website

The nature of the Lag Baomer event is reflective of Minyan Shelanu as a whole: The work being done and the impact being made is profound—yet at the end of the day, it’s all about caring for one another, accepting one another, and having fun. “Minyan Shelanu is more than an institution. It’s one family.” says Rabbi Abadi. “And with your help and support, we can continue to be there for Klal Yisroel, and to be a place whose doors are open to anyone who needs our help.”


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