Shalom Task Force Annual Brunch, May 4
Shalom Task Force’s Annual Brunch is to take place on Sunday, May 4, at 10:00 a.m. at the Sephardic Temple, 775 Branch Boulevard in Cedarhurst.
The brunch will help Shalom Task Force continue to provide its many services, including a confidential hotline, legal counseling, educational programs, and workshops for engaged and married couples. This occasion will recognize Aviva and Yossi Hoch and Judy Silverman for their dedicated support and leadership. It will also pay tribute to the memory of Rebbetzin Pess Epstein, a’h, a founder of the organization.
For more information and to make your reservation, please call 516-773-3399 or 718-757-7728 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. v
A Belle Harbor Celebration, March 30
Congregation Ohab Zedek of Belle Harbor is celebrating Rabbi Tsvi Selengut’s participation in this year’s Yeshiva University Chag Hasemikha. In honor of the rabbi’s achievement, Ohab Zedek, along with Yeshiva University, will be holding a community-wide celebration on Sunday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn & Joseph Straus Chair in Jewish Education at YU, will be delivering a lecture to the entire community entitled, “Managing Conflict in Personal Relationships and Communal Relationships.” The lecture will be followed by a dessert collation. The entire community is invited to share in this special simcha. For more information or if you would like to arrange a Shabbos in Belle Harbor, please contact Rabbi Selengut at 201-658-2478. v
YILB: A Berachah On The Beach
For decades, Long Beach, NY, has been known to be a warm and friendly place where Jewish families can raise their children in a most nurturing environment. The Young Israel of Long Beach, one of the cornerstones of the community, is excitedly taking steps to ensure that the community continues to grow and blossom in the future. The YILB recently announced an innovative incentive program designed to attract and assist young families to come and see the beauty that lies within the “City by the Sea.”
While in proximity to all the amenities of the South Shore of Long Island, the Long Beach community has a very cordial, out-of-town feel to it. Many of the founding families of YILB speak of the values of respect for others, and modesty as a way of life, as being the bedrock of the community that they chose to raise their children in.
Long Beach is graced by an incredible 2.2-mile boardwalk (included in the eruv) that provides ocean views all year round. The YILB provides daily minyanim, daily daf yomi, weekly shiurim for men and women, and much more. Long Beach also has the great benefit of having the Long Island Rail Road within walking distance, making commutes to Manhattan or Brooklyn quite manageable, especially because you can always find a seat since it is the first stop.
The YILB is currently undergoing an expansion of its youth department, with new playground equipment and a youth lounge. Long Beach is also home to some of Long Island’s best playgrounds, along with sprinkler and sand parks. The Jewish community of Long Beach currently offers an eruv, a mikveh, chesed organizations, a yeshiva, and soon a night kollel. There are a number of kosher establishments, including a brand-new kosher Dunkin’ Donuts, all under the supervision of Rabbi Chaim Wakslak, rabbi of the YILB.
The new incentive program that is being offered to young couples and growing families is a loan of up to $30,000 towards a down payment of a house or condominium in Long Beach. The loan is forgivable after seven consecutive active years of membership at the YILB. There is also a unique twist being offered to families that take part in the initiative: A referral bonus of $2,500 will be offered for successfully attracting additional families to move into Long Beach and join the YILB. The warm air is just around the corner, so if you are looking for a new vibrant community to call your own, come visit Long Beach and spend Shabbos at the YILB. E-mail email@example.com for more information or to schedule an interview. v
Tomchei Shabbos Prepares For Pesach
By Noach Haller
Pesach plans for travel and relatives are made weeks in advance. Do we think twice about the financial means to buy our food for the Sedarim or the other days of Pesach? Many take it for granted that we will be able to feed ourselves, families, and guests.
I want to share one of the most humbling experiences my wife and I have had. Last March we were invited to join the Tomchei Shabbos family in preparing packages before Pesach. Sunday morning we arrived at an open lot, reserved by the Katz family, and we were stunned. Volunteers from the neighborhood came to do Pesach shopping, not for themselves, but for over 300 needy families in our community. Men, women, and children were given shopping lists, with only a number to identify the order–no names or addresses.
After a conversation with Jeanette Lamm, coordinator for Tomchei Shabbos/Yad Yeshaya of the Five Towns/Far Rockaway, I learned how each family is able to receive these packages. The packages include most of their basic Pesach needs, including matzos (hand and machine), grape juice, wine, chicken, meat, sugar, eggs, potatoes, onions, cheese, orange juice, and more. On a weekly basis, 285 families receive Tomchei Shabbos packages, and over 100 more families receive Pesach assistance. Each family is sent a form which allows them to place their order for the amount of each item they need. The Pesach budget alone is nearly $150,000.
All are invited to join the packing on April 6, 10:30 a.m. at 433 Doughty Boulevard in Inwood. Drivers are needed from 11:30 a.m. on. Please come join in in the mitzvah alongside friends. v
15 DRS Alumni And Faculty Members Ordained At YU’s Chag Hasemicha
DRS High School is proud of its 15 alumni and faculty members who were honored this past Sunday with receiving semichah from Yeshiva University. The DRS family hopes and prays that these young rabbis will take their places among the leadership of the Jewish community to become the leaders that our children will look up to. v
DRS Student Honors At Science Olympiad
This past Sunday, DRS students competed in the Science Olympiad regionals at Lander College against 13 other schools. After months of preparation, DRS students tested their skills in several scientific disciplines including chemistry, environmental science, engineering, physics, and biology. These events included building bridge models, working with chemistry labs, and testing knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Competitors from DRS studied through online resources, textbooks, and guidance from the faculty of the DRS science department.
The Olympiad captains, juniors David Haskell and Yoni and Eli Goldberg and sophomore Yitzhack Caroll, organized and guided fellow students during weeknight practices and helped teammates get ready for their events. At the competition, students engaged each other by sharing ideas, learning from others’ inventions, and expressing their scientific knowledge.
The students competed in 13 events throughout the day. After the events, awards were announced and many DRS students gained honorable mention. Jacob Naiman, Yoni Friedman, and Yoni Goldberg won fourth-place medals. Yoni Goldberg and Yehudah Inslicht placed second, and David Haskell and Adam Mann won first place in their events. Overall, DRS placed sixth in the tournament.
Afterwards, an Einstein College medical professor and long-term researcher gave closing remarks about continuing education and research to better the world. His talk was informative and revealed many of the benefits of pursuing a scientific profession. Hopefully, DRS will successfully continue to compete in the Science Olympiad in coming years, with the help of its amazing staff and students. v
Sharing Seats With iâ€‘Shine
Erica and Bryan Giller and family partnered with the nonprofit organization Sharing Seats to celebrate the bnot mitzvah of their twin daughters, Abby and Hannah. The family welcomed iâ€‘Shine children from Teaneck and the Five Towns to the New York Rangers vs. Phoenix Coyotes game on Monday, March 24. Iâ€‘Shine is a Chai Lifeline afterschool program for children living with illness and loss in their family. The Gillers, huge Rangers fans, wanted to share their simcha in a unique way. The children were welcomed into a private suite where they were provided with Rangers memorabilia gift bags, enjoyed a delicious glatt kosher dinner, and met former players from the New York Rangers who signed autographs and mingled with the crowd. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the children were treated like royalty while enjoying the best seats in the house. The Rangers won in overtime to cap off a magical evening! Iâ€‘Shine wishes a hearty mazel tov to the very special bat mitzvah girls and to the entire Giller family. For information on creating your bar or bat mitzvah chesed project with the help of Sharing Seats, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. v
How HAFTR Hockey Broke The ‘Curse’
The HAFTR varsity hockey team won the championship in last week’s dramatic finale. In sudden-death overtime, HAFTR scored the game-winning goal against rival DRS. However sweet the victory was for HAFTR, this win came with some assistance from a “higher source”–their predecessors, the winning HAFTR 1999 varsity team.
The HAFTR varsity hockey franchise in the late ’80s and ’90s were anything but winners. The yeshiva hockey community at large referred to HAFTR as the cursed franchise. HAFTR had not won a single championship despite having multiple opportunities in over 15 years, including the only tie-ending championship game, in 1987 against Ramaz (not a “win”).
Finally came March 21, 1999, when destiny had its way and HAFTR’s legacy changed forever. The curse was finally broken! On that momentous championship day, HAFTR played another community rival, Rambam, defeating them in dramatic fashion with only 11 seconds left. Alan Singer, a HAFTR senior, who had transferred from Rambam to HAFTR his junior year, had the game-winning goal to decide the championship against his former teammates. Since that day, the HAFTR hockey franchise went on to win an additional five championships–that’s 6 championships in 15 years!
Evan Honigsfeld, a former captain of the HAFTR hockey team, was on the floor when that fateful goal was scored. Several years ago, as Evan was reminiscing with a close friend Adam Stein, an idea came to mind. They talked about high-school hockey and the special bond that was created amongst all members of that winning team. Evan thought it appropriate to reunite the team, marking the 15th anniversary of the winning game. That time arrived last Thursday night at Cho-Sen Island where the reunion took place. With the attendance of Coach Rabbi David Beitler and 15 of the original 20 team members, the reunion was a huge success. To show highlights of the championship game at the reunion, Evan had to bring a 30-pound TV with a VHS slot to play the highlights. Many team members joked that it made them feel old knowing that DVDs didn’t exist back then. Unfortunately, due to illness, Coach Nagel couldn’t attend but several of the team’s super fans were in attendance to show their support.
The ’99 team got the ball rolling, but they don’t want to take all the credit for all of HAFTR’s continued successes. The team mainly wanted to share their story to show that although winning was important, the friendships that were made trump it all and made for great memories that will last a lifetime. v
Ambassador Ayalon Meets With HAFTR Students
By Tuvia Book
The HAFTR High School junior and senior classes were honored last week to hear a presentation by Ambassador Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the United States. He was also the Deputy Foreign Minister for the State of Israel. Currently, he is a scholar in residence at Yeshiva University. Ambassador Ayalon is one of the leading Israeli diplomats in the field of hasbarah, making the case for Israel. He has produced, together with the government of Israel and “Stand with Us,” a series of YouTube clips called “The Truth About . . .” These clips have garnered hundreds of thousands of hits. He gave an extremely articulate presentation to the HAFTR High School students and faculty members about the importance of being able to advocate for Israel.
Many of the points he made are being discussed in Mr. Tuvia Book’s mandatory “History of Zionism” course. The advocacy and history of Zionism course emphasizes the three points that make an effective advocate for Israel. Ambassador Ayalon possesses all three. He has a tremendous passion for and knowledge about Israel. His delivery was clear, factual, and concise. He is a role model for students on how to talk about Israel on college campuses without screaming, apologizing, or yelling. He highlighted how HAFTR students are the future leaders of American Jewry, and it is vital for them to be informed about Israel and know how to advocate for our homeland.
He warned of the dangers of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), and stated how important it is to not ignore threats, no matter how small they seem. He also reminded the students that Israel’s enemies are very successful in presenting their narrative and have an automatic majority in the United Nations. It is incumbent on every friend of Israel to make that case for Israel proactively. In closing, he emphasized how Yeshiva College and Stern College are institutions that every Modern Orthodox student should seriously consider as they have the same values of “Torah u’madda” on which we are raised. v
At 70 mph, March 31
By Joseph Klein and Eliezer Cohen
On Monday, March 31 (29 Adar II 5774) history is set to be made, as a unique daf yomi shiur celebrates the milestone of completing Talmud Bavli for the third time. This upcoming siyum will not be held in a massive sports stadium attended by tens of thousands; rather, the event will take place in the same uncommon location that the shiur is delivered each day.
That morning will be the same as any other, as shiur members filter onto the LIRR train at the Far Rockaway, Inwood, Lawrence, and Cedarhurst stations as they have done for the last 22 years. But as the train begins to pulls out of Woodmere and Sholom Fried begins the final page in the 7Â½-year cycle, they will be on the verge of a remarkable accomplishment. This group has been riding the same train, with the same united purpose: to utilize the 45-minute ride into New York Penn Station with a daily dose of learning. With miles and miles of track under their locomotive classroom, they are now on the horizon of completing the daf yomi cycle of Talmud Bavli for the third time.
Back in 1991, Rabbi Pesach Lerner was approached by Aryeh Markovich while riding the LIRR one morning wanting to know if he would be willing to teach the Talmud on the 7:51 a.m. train from Far Rockaway to Manhattan. “I used to see a lot of people playing cards on the train,” says Markovich. “I figured, why don’t we do something for people to utilize their time productively and learn something, too?” Rabbi Lerner agreed, and the rest is history. The first day, Markovich went up and down the train platform handing out flyers to publicize their class-on-wheels. The next morning, nearly 30 people showed up for their mobile tutorial in the train’s last car. It has been going strong ever since. Today, there are two morning Manhattan-bound trains that offer a daf yomi class. The students are accountants, bankers, salesmen, and even staff of the MTA itself. Railroad personnel are well aware of the class. Proud of the positive publicity it has generated, they do everything possible to help.
There certainly are challenges conducting a class in this environment. Eliezer Cohen, who has been learning with the group for more than 10 years and now serves as one of its senior maggidei shiur, says, “The daf discusses all aspects of life. Therefore there are issues that come up, from the mundane to the very powerful. The political issues of the day, sexual [topics] . . . sometimes there are issues that are hard to discuss on the train, but it gives vibrancy to the commute.” Yossi Klein adds, “While most commuters grunt at the occasional delay on the rails, we relish in spending the extra few minutes delving a little deeper in the daf.”
Before the current cycle began, few had the technology at their fingertips that exist today. In the last few years the accessibility of data to assist one’s learning-on-the-go has exploded with an ArtScroll app, or a virtual shiur on an iPad. But there still is this class for those who prefer to go through Shas in the same manner as it has been learned for many years past–as a cohesive group. The daily participants have bonded together and share in life’s high and lows–brisos, bar mitzvahs, as well as levayahs and shivah calls.
To celebrate the occasion, on March 31, the siyum will be sponsored by original member of the shiur Elliot Krischer, Benjy Krischer, and their families in memory of their dear parents who were niftar this past year. LIRR will reserve the full last car in anticipation of the celebration and a full program is planned, with the collation proudly sponsored by Gourmet Glatt. Former maggidei shiur Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, and representatives of Agudath Israel will join as this moment of achievement comes to fruition: the greatest from the spirit of the Lubliner Rav. Rabbi Meir Shapiro’s vision of the daf yomi’s potential, and the power of a continual procession of learning, lives on strong as ever. Even in the East River tunnels of NYC on a packed commuter train.
Just think: you can also turn your morning commute into a productive period of learning that will shape the fabric of your daily entry into the business world. Anytime you join, a little over seven years later you have completed Shas. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is a great time to take the step toward a new beginning as we start Masechtas Beitzah. Join Sholom Fried, Yossie Klein, Eliezer Cohen, and Rabbi Menachem Adler as they conduct their mobile class each morning.
We invite all former participants and their families to come join in the celebration on March 31. If you have any inquiries, contact Eliezer Cohen at email@example.com. v
SKA Travels To Berlin
For the fourth year in a row, the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls, in partnership with NCSY and under the inspiring leadership of SKA chesed coordinator Ms. Leah Pariser, sent 12 sophomores and juniors to Germany on Tuesday, March 11. The girls worked with the midrashah in Berlin and celebrated Purim with the 60 Orthodox families in this growing community. As Mrs. Helen Spirn, head of school, notes, “The SKA students were deeply inspired by the power of kiruv and chesed and expressed how they had personally gained so much appreciation about Yahudut, their education and their communities . . . all from their Purim in Berlin. Special thanks to Ms. Jorge Bienenfeld supporting Ms. Pariser in this special SKA experience and for her wonderful photographs.”
The following is a recap of the impressions of SKA 10th-grader Sara Raizel Jedwab:
This past week I traveled halfway across the world to be with the Jews there for a week. We had arrived on Wednesday of last week and hit the ground running. The bike tour, the Purim carnival (that the SKA girls ran for the elementary school children), the tour of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and spending Shabbos with different families in the community were only a small part of what we did; we definitely made the most of our short time there.
I must say it was one of the most impactful weeks of my life. My experience there opened my eyes to see the beauty and appreciation for being born and raised a Jew. The fact that I live in a community in which I am free and even influenced to keep rising in my levels of Yiddishkeit is such a blessing. This revelation dawned upon me when I compared it to girls we met who live throughout Germany who couldn’t even tell their friends that they were Jewish. These girls come together in a program called JEWL in which the midrashah in Berlin has programs for them to learn about Judaism. They have not one kosher store in their small hometowns, or anyone to show them the beauty and pride in being a Jew; they don’t even have the rudimentary knowledge of the aleph-bet. This helped me shift my view to see my challenges in my connection to Judaism as an opportunity given by Hashem to specific people at certain times. I believe He chooses to give the access to learning His ways more easily to some in order for them to then go and share it with those without a connection to Him in order to bring us together as a nation. We are bound by our Torah to Hashem, to our morals, and to each other.
We also celebrated our Purim there this year. I also thoroughly enjoyed going back to the basics on Purim. Though I always enjoy a really shticky theme and a ten-page poem, there is something to be said about a Purim solely focused on the fulfilment of the four mitzvot of mishloach manot, matanot le’evyonim, megillah, and mishteh, nothing more and nothing less. In that sense and in many other ways throughout my trip, I felt like was strengthening my roots and getting back to the basics of Judaism.
This experience has taught me that if we want to, we can daven, we can eat kosher, and we can fulfill all of Gâ€‘d’s commandments, and the only thing standing in our way is our own doubt. Because when Hashem put us into this world, He chose to give us a Jewish education from when we were little and a Jewish home to grow up in. Instead of seeing limitations, see how you can build on your blessing of a foundation. Embrace it, then share it with those who deserve to know it just as much as we do. Your help is needed to be a continuation of the Jewish people.
I hope you enjoy this Shabbat with meaning! v
Mesivta Football League Season 2 Championship
This past Sunday, the Mesivta Football League brought its second season to a close. From beginning to end, it was an exhilarating experience for all participating yeshivos. Every Sunday afternoon throughout the long, cold winter, teams arrived for their games at Lawrence High School or the Aviator Sports and Events Center, excited to represent their schools in competitive flag football. Games were intense but menschlich, with tremendous sportsmanship displayed week in, week out by all teams. Although all teams had an enjoyable season, the league would congratulates Coach Yitz Mendlowitz and his DRS Wildcats on their second MFL championship win.
The playoffs were intense. The top four teams made it to the playoffs. In the one semifinal round, DRS (1) played Rambam (4) and MAY (2) played Shaare Torah (4). It was a day for the favorites, as both DRS and MAY dominated their opponents by 20-point margins. The stage was set for a rematch of last season’s championship game–DRS versus MAY.
The game was expected to be a nail-biter, as the two top teams in the league had split during the regular season, both by the same margin. MAY attacked first, as quarterback Ari Shaulson connected with wide receiver Yehuda Auerbach for an amazing touchdown catch. Going into the second half, MAY held the lead 6—0.
But DRS was relentless on both defense and offense. On the first drive of the second half, DRS star cornerback Ben Kahn intercepted a pass, which he returned for a touchdown, putting DRS on the board. With a successful extra point, DRS was leading 7—6. MAY tried to retaliate, but DRS cornerback Chaim Samet would hear nothing of it. Samet picked off another pass and ran it back, putting DRS in scoring position at 1st and goal. DRS quarterback Moshe Keller connected with Johnny Silber for DRS’s second score of the game. To ensure the victory, Keller again connected with wide receiver Daniel Kimmel for an incredible third touchdown, securing the win for DRS.
The league would like to thank all participating yeshivos–their players, coaches, administrators, and fans–for an amazing season. A special congratulations to MAY 11th-grader Dani Feit, who received the season MVP award, and DRS 12th-grader Ben Kahn, who received the championship game MVP award.
For more information about the Mesivta Football League and footage of the championship game, please visit mesivtafootball.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. v
For the past year and a half, Ohel has been an active participant in Project Hope, a FEMA-funded statewide initiative to provide support to people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Countless individuals, families, and neighborhoods have received assistance from Ohel, and while Project Hope is officially ending, Ohel will continue to provide many services for those in need.
While simultaneously working on wrapping up with current clients and sites, Ohel has continually been receiving many new referrals and has implemented services in various public schools, the NY Aquarium, the Coney Island branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, and other community sites.
One of the main goals of Ohel’s Project Hope is to promote resilience and to help fortify survivors, so they feel that they have the tools to cope successfully in the aftermath of Sandy and in the event of another major disaster. They have therefore partnered with NY Ready and the Red Cross to do two-pronged presentations: The Red Cross presents a physical-preparedness presentation, and Ohel’s Project Hope presents the emotional-preparedness aspect. They have presented this program in many different venues over the last month, to ensure that participants are prepared and resilient to face future challenges.
Through in-person contact, group sessions, and family counseling, Ohel’s Project Hope has interacted with and provided support for a staggering 91,000+ participants. In addition to specific Hurricane Sandy-related support, Ohel’s Project Hope has been working to ensure that the lessons of security and confidence remain intact well into the future.
With the help of the hardworking staff and crisis counselors of Ohel’s Project Hope, these individuals, families, and neighborhoods who have suffered unimaginable devastation have endured, become more resilient, and given the legacy of skills that will help them successfully cope with future challenges.
In the words of Tzivy Reiter, director of Project Hope at Ohel, “Ohel reached out to everyone who may have been affected by the storm over the last year. We left no stone unturned, going door-to-door in every community and in every kind of weather condition. Our staff sat in freezing-cold disaster-relief trailers, together with survivors, many of whom still had no heat in their own homes. We braved the 90-degree heat going door-to-door, seeking out survivors. We walked along the boardwalks and set up shop on the beaches, reaching out to families who still could not face the water with serenity since Sandy. We did not wait for survivors to reach out to us, we reached out to them–demonstrating that while we could not erase their devastating losses, we could stand alongside them and help them find the inner strength to manage them.” v