The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 



Chulent is an extraordinary gathering of X-O's and others exploring the "handbreadth" in which heaven and earth meet, the narrow margins where secular and haredi, atheist and Chasidic, deepest depths and most foolish foolery, overlap. That's my interpretation. But what Chulent is most basically is a drop-in lounge for folks that have traveled (or strayed) from the Chasidic world, whether in spirit, mind or body, along with their allies and friends.

Every Thursday, Yitzchak Schonfeld (left) brought his crockpot of chulent to the Millinery* synagogue, where anywhere from a dozen to a hundred folks ascend to the third floor to share news, wounds, nigunim, and fun. It's a place of open welcome, no judgment, and experimentation. After many peregrinations, Chulent is now meeting at the Ocean Parkway Synagogue Synagogue in Brooklyn, as of Mar 2013. To keep in touch with Chulent go to their facebook group.

It amuses me that the NY Times March 9, 2013 article on Chulent references this page, which references a March 2007 NY Times article on Chulent. (Actually the Times article references all of, but mainly because of this page; see "Moshioach Oi!" near the article's end.)


The track you are listening to includes three clips: I'm a Jew (beginning and reprise), a wildly kitschy recording that someone threw on the deck, a Chasidic nigun some of us dance to in a sweaty cricle, and an electric version of a Shlomo tune.

I came to Chulent through my secular Yiddishist chaveirah Beatrice, but the first time I encountered the crew that is at the heart of Chulent was with Netanya, at the headquarters of Corporate Raiders, a business in the heart of Borough Park that kept its doors open to all hours for the benefit of Chasidim who still lived physically in the haredi community but whose hearts or beliefs had moved elsewhere.

There are many crosslinks between the various circles of Chulent, for example the chevre from the Carlebach shul that sometimes goes camping together (this was where I met Yitzchak the second time). But Netanya was the link that brought most of the hippie-frummie-egal people there (my posse), including Jen Bleyer, who wrote the feature article on Chulent for the Times.

The pictures and clips linked to on this page were recorded in December 2006, but I waited to share them because some of the Chulent crowd didn't want the publicity. Now that the Times has published its own version, the amount of publicity that will come through this website is certainly "less than a sixtieth" (the Talmudic fraction that means completely negligible) in comparison.   Download our ACOUSTIC CHULENT

Cholent (or chulent) of course is also the stew of beans, potatoes, meat, eggs etc. that cooks overnight for Shabbos (though at Chulent the cholent is vegetarian). "Thursday night chulent" is also a happening in many yeshivas where students stay up learning all night, with a pot of chulent to keep them fueled. Both are realities and perfect metaphors for Chulent the gathering – rich, diverse, fortifying, an immersion in using physicality as the instrument of spirit.



Posted by: Sholomanarchy at April 16, 2007 9:47 AM

I would like to know when (time) etc. the meetings take place at Mill. Shul. Thanks

Posted by: Marc at May 22, 2007 10:32 PM

couple of historical corrections:the cross fertilizations didn't only happen through the netanya-gidon nexus. At miryam k's and pearl g's vodka latke party round the same time, Heshy and Boruch met up with Bea, Netanya, Danny G and others. There were some Klezkamp connections also, and a Tu B'shvat seder where Ashira S. appeared. Not such a fragile single connection as you're imagining. More like lots of tender shoots and tendrils...

Plus you might want to update the new place...
not happening at Carlebach.

Posted by: Beatrice at November 5, 2007 7:11 PM

More historical corrections: Beatrice and the hippie Jew chevre started making their way to the recent incarnation of chulent that began at King's highway before Netanya came. Chanita, Bea and a few others made the pilgrimage out to King's highway in the fall of 2005 and had our socks knocked off. We met Mohammed, Yoyli K, Mark, and many old friends from Anna and Boruch's party days, Johnny, Shmulik, Mo. Jenn came soon after.

Posted by: Beatrice at November 5, 2007 7:19 PM

The party is now on East 6th street between 1 & 2 Aves., at the Community Synagogue

Posted by: frank london at November 28, 2007 9:42 PM


Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006