z2The achdus was palpable; the excitement incalculable. Never before has a community so diverse come together to show support for so elementary a concept: the concept of chesed.

Achiezer, now a well-known model of chesed, held its inaugural dinner a mere four years after introducing itself to the Far Rockaway and Five Towns community. In this short time, Achiezer’s reach has grown by leaps and bounds. Whether for medical recommendations, crisis intervention, mental health support, insurance enrollment, financial budgeting, legal assistance, specialized equipment, bereavement services, or hospital support, Achiezer has been there for the community; and on this unforgettable night, the community was there for Achiezer.

Over 1,200 people, including more than 45 rabbanim, gathered Sunday evening at The Sands Atlantic Beach, to pay tribute, become educated, and get involved. Attendees from all corners of the community and beyond banded together in an unprecedented demonstration of support and unity.

The evening was both enjoyable and inspiring. The event opened with an impressive buffet dinner impeccably catered by Michael Schick, and a lavish sushi bar sponsored by Seasons and Stop Chop and Roll. The program then commenced in the chuppah room. Chairman of the Board Mr. Shulie Wollman opened the evening by welcoming over 30 representatives from local and statewide organizations which have partnered with Achiezer. Mr. Wollman then introduced Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender, founder, who delivered a powerful address demonstrating how a favor done for someone else is, in reality, a favor to oneself. Rabbi Bender then presented a surprise award to Dr. Brucha Lowinger in appreciation of all of her efforts in expanding the mental health department and her heroic efforts in assisting families who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Rabbi Bender concluded his remarks urging the community to get involved, in any way possible, thereby making our families stronger and the community stronger.

Following Rabbi Bender’s passionate words, Far Rockaway resident Mr. Yossi Lieber stunned the audience by ascending the stage, unannounced. With overflowing emotions, Mr. Lieber recounted his experience during his recent stroke, just a few weeks ago. “Without Achiezer,” Mr. Lieber said poignantly, “I would not be alive today.” Mr. Lieber implored the crowd to join in a standing ovation and recognize Achiezer’s critical, lifesaving work.

The program continued with video presentations to each of the distinguished honorees: Mr. and Mrs. Alan Botwinick, Guests of Honor; Rabbi Yehiel M. Kalish, Community Hakoras Hatov Award; Dr. Norman Saffra, Physician Appreciation Award; Mr. and Mrs. Reuven (Ronald) Spirn, Esq., Community Service Award; and Mr. and Mrs. Moshe Ratner, Young Leadership Award. The Legislative Leadership Award was presented to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, by Congressman Gregory Meeks.

HaRav Simcha HaKohen Kook, shlita, Rav of the Churva Shul in Yerushalayim and Rechovot, then led the crowd with the recitation of Tehillim and Birkas Kohanim.

The program concluded with an incredible video production by KolRom Media, which showcased Achiezer’s vital everyday services as well as the unforgettable role which Achiezer played in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The evening drew to a close with an expansive dessert buffet for all to enjoy.

As the attendees left the hall, the unanimous reaction was one of exhilaration and awe. This evening of historic measures was truly one of a kind: a one-of-a-kind organization, a one-of-a-kind community . . . all brought together with one simple goal: chesed. v


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