Mercaz Torah U’Tefilla’s Beginning
Amongst the many unique attributes of the Baltimore Jewish community, perhaps most notable is the reputed achdus and Ahavas Yisroel that reigns within the broad spectrum of Jews who call Charm City their home. Perhaps because of this remarkable unity, Hashem has blessed the Baltimore community with even greater proliferation and growth, broadening and amplifying its distinctive harmony among diversity.
As young pioneering families began migrating beyond Greenspring, there was an acute need for young and dynamic leadership and a spiritual focal point for this emerging neighborhood.” A growing number of people on this side of town were looking for more than just a place to daven and learn,” says Dovid Charnowitz, co-President of Mercaz. “They had a vision for a warm, vibrant ‘community center’ that would offer davening, shiurim, Shalosh Seudos, Daf Yomi with festive Siyumim, Avos U’banim, and more, as well as serve as a bastion of chesed, all under the same roof. They sought a strong, personal connection with their Rav and all the chevra; a true sense of belonging.”
In the fall of 2010, Mercaz Torah U’Tefilla, under the leadership of Harav Yissochor Dov Eichenstein shlit”a, opened its doors in modest quarters on Baythorne Road. Harav Eichenstein is a native of Chicago, where his father, Harav Yehoshua Heschel Eichenstein the Zidichover Rebbe, has expanded the kehilla built by his grandfather and namesake, the first Zidichover Rebbe of Chicago, to include more than 50 different programs benefiting the city’s residents with services ranging from convenient to critical.
“My connection with the Rav goes back to his father, shlit”a,” says Dr. Michael Elman. “The Eichenstein family vision transformed the community in Chicago, and we have already seen the same kind of transformation unfolding here in Baltimore.” Beyond just rabbinic pedigree, the Rav has a unique menorah of the classic definition of a kehilla, as an all-encompassing entity that nurtures and cultivates every aspect of its membership’s growth.
“The shul quickly became the center of attraction,” says R’ Hershel Boehm. “The name Mercaz Torah U’Tefilla, says it all – a focal point for learning, davening plus even more. The Rav is a highly dynamic and very likable, a great influence on the young couples who live in the area. People truly enjoy and gravitate to this exceptional magnetism and captivating personality, and feel comfortable consulting with him on life issues such as chinuch and the like. His influence extends beyond his own kehilla, fostering achdus all across the greater Baltimore community.”