The annual Achiezer Gala, graciously sponsored by Cross River, was held Sunday, January 5.
Based on the unprecedented turnout, one thing was clear: The attendees had been eagerly awaiting this event, which some call “the highlight of the year” in the Five Towns and Far Rockaway communities.
More than 1,800 people converged at the Sands Atlantic Beach over the course of the evening, ready to express their support for a one-of-a-kind organization that has redefined chesed in our communities.
Elegantly catered by Chap a Nosh Caterers, the formal program saw over 1,000 people seated, with hundreds more lining the walls and filling the hallways. The energy in the air was palpable.
Adam Okun, master of ceremonies, set the tone of the evening by stressing that the community’s strong expression of support during this year’s dinner campaign made clear that the support for Achiezer among the masses has never been stronger. He specifically thanked the supporters and elected officials who stand behind Achiezer. He welcomed County Executive Laura Curran and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder on stage.
After brief remarks from Ms. Curran, recital of Tehillim for all the cholim of the community was led by HaRav Yaakov Bender, rosh ha’yeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, and Mr. Ronald Lowinger, Achiezer trustee.
Attendees then watched the Achiezer feature video, depicting the astounding work of this phenomenal organization.
The evening’s honorees were then recognized, with each one’s accomplishments being beautifully represented on a video presentation. The Young Leadership Award was presented to Ari and Deena Weinstein by Rabbi Tzvi Krigsman, menahel of Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island. The Excellence in Medicine Award was presented to Dr. Daniel and Riki Haller by Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman, department of medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau. The Pillar of Chesed Award was presented to Stacey Zrihen by Shalom Vegh of Westwood Realty Group. The Man of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Jonathan Herman by his brother-in-law, Mr. Moshe Wolfson. Finally, the Guests of Honor, Jason and Danielle Bokor, were presented their award by Rabbi Shalom Axelrod, rabbi, Young Israel of Woodmere.
Mr. Okun then introduced the founder of Achiezer, Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender, who has carried the yoke of chesed in the community on his shoulders, never resting and never allowing himself to be satisfied with past achievements.
Rabbi Bender described how the Achiezer personnel are a selfless group of individuals, “dedicated, committed, devoted” to each and every member of the community. He proceeded to describe the many phone calls that the office receives, but relayed the story of one couple in particular who were on the receiving end, grew from their experience, and are now there for others “like a brother.”
Following his remarks, Rabbi Bender invited guests to a dessert reception. As music filled the air and the guests pondered the messages shared throughout the uplifting evening, the underlying theme was one of unity, reflecting the dinner campaign theme of “My Brother, My Helper,” as Achiezer is always there to assist others — “like a brother.”
Every person who exited The Sands that evening knew that they are never alone because there are those who spend their every waking moment concerned about the community and concerned about the individual.
The message was unambiguous: Like a brother, Achiezer is always there. Like a brother, Achiezer will always be there.