By Larry Gordon
It’s almost Pavlovian. Scrambled eggs with salad and coffee elicit good feelings and create an environment ripe for fundraising. This past Sunday, it was a day of breakfasts here in the Five Towns and I suspect in many other locales around the metropolitan area. This little crease in the very jammed-up annual calendar of the Jewish community seems to be a good and hopefully profitable time to offer up and host these wonderful and important events.
To begin with, Mikey Albala of the Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society noted that last Sunday’s five simultaneous breakfasts in Lawrence, Cedarhurst, and Woodmere were extraordinarily successful. The Brooklyn-based organization has reached into Jewish communities in every corner of this country and indeed the world over the last decade and more. Five breakfasts at different locations in the community are an interesting productive marketing tool for an organization like RCCS. There seems to be some kind of an imaginary impenetrable wall when it comes to crossing over from one mini-region of the community to the other, if you can call it that, regardless of the great worthiness of the cause. Perhaps it is just that people feel a little uncomfortable going into the home of someone they don’t know, though that is usually not a problem for most.
At this advanced stage of the breakfast parlor meeting and dinner fundraising event circuit, people might need an additional catalyst to attend a function other than the good works and veracity of whatever the cause might be. This was the strategy with five corresponding events on the same day and at the same time all within one square mile. You increase the likelihood that you are going tap into all the vital segments of the larger community to support your cause.
Mr. Albala said the other day that the organization is pleased with the turnout and that they were able to generate important commitments toward their annual $7 million budget. “But it is not only that,” he said. “It might be surprising after all these years, but after each of these events in the various communities, there are always people who become aware of RCCS for the first time,” he said. This leads very often to new donors and new areas and sources of support for the group’s lifesaving efforts.
Switching gears for a moment, last week there was a wonderful event at the home of Malky and Jay Spector in Lawrence for the benefit of YUConnects, the shidduch-making arm of Yeshiva University. Who would have thought a few years ago that an idea as natural as boys and girls meeting and getting married would become a cause that needs our support?
The social fabric and dynamic of the general Jewish community has shifted somewhat dramatically. “Young people just do not have the venues to meet anymore and particularly not in a so-called kosher way,” says Marjorie Glatt, an advisor to YUConnects. As guest speaker at the event, Dr. David Pelcovitz stated that today people for the most part are communicating digitally or electronically, while striking up a relationship that can lead to marriage usually requires a modicum of social and communication skills on some level that can portray who the person is and what their values and priorities might be. I suppose that other than the words, “Will you marry me?” it can take more than 140 characters to express the essence of who you are to a potential life partner.
Last Sunday morning also featured the annual event of Shalom Task Force, an organization that used to fly beneath the radar, but a group which has dedicated itself to protecting women and guiding couples on the matter of relationships and navigating their way over potential bumpy roads in marriage interactions. The organization deserves immense credit for the level of awareness they have brought to the fore, no longer allowing people dealing with difficulties to linger in the shadows without knowing where to turn.
The breakfast scene will stretch into Sunday, May 10, when the Rabenstein Learning Center of Yeshiva Darchei Torah will hold their annual breakfast in Lawrence with keynote remarks by the remarkable Rabbi Yaakov Bender. Also on Sunday, Kollel Shomrei Hachomos, a vital institution that supports thousands of families in Israel, will host their annual Five Towns breakfast. The guest speaker at that event will be the erudite rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, Rabbi Kenneth Hain.
The social calendar is not limited to breakfasts, however, as last Sunday also featured the always important annual Hatzalah of the Rockaways and Nassau County and Rockaway Barbecue that is the major fundraiser for the organization. There are few events as important on the calendar as this Hatzalah Barbecue of last Sunday night.
This year’s Hatzalah event focused on the selfless families and individuals who are the paramedics and emergency responders and volunteers who drop everything to respond to medical emergencies. What an awesome enterprise and responsibility. If there is a group that deserves a community’s uncompromising support, this is the one.
This week there were a few other evening events focusing on other vital endeavors. On Tuesday evening, we attended the AIPAC function at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst where we heard remarks from former House of Representatives Republican leader Eric Cantor. Involvement in AIPAC and ingesting the information they disseminate about the inner working of the US-Israel relationship is particularly urgent at this point in time.
Cantor said that while there will certainly be challenges up ahead in the U.S.-Israel relationship, it is a strong AIPAC and our support of the group that creates and solidifies the relationship between our two countries, regardless of the effort to diminish the connection between these two great democracies.
On the same night, the great Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv, led by Rav Naftali Jaeger, had their 48th annual dinner, and what an event and wonderful success it was. The yeshiva has been repositioning itself over the last few years, but now after an internal shakeup of sorts it is back in full swing and living up to the great ideals and goals set by its founder R’ Shlomo Freifeld, z’l. The dinner, held at the Sands in Atlantic Beach, demonstrated why Sh’or Yoshuv is once again ready to assume the mantle of leadership in the Torah community.
A few days ago, the ever-increasing-in-size Shulamith School for Girls held their annual dinner, which was extremely well attended. With their student body populating several buildings, mostly in Woodmere, the school is planning on centralizing and moving the entire school, including a new high school, into the Number Five school building in Cedarhurst.
That school building is quite an impressive structure with an expansive schoolyard and plenty of room for classrooms and other facilities that will make Shulamith a state-of-the-art school in the Five Towns.
Finally, in just a few weeks, the Five Towns will host the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Force dinner at the Sephardic Temple in Cedarhurst. There are currently at least 16 soldiers on active duty whose families currently reside in the Five Towns. The evening will be a celebration and tribute to those men and women, many of whom will be present, along with their families.
Not unlike the Hatzalah event that touches every aspect of this diverse community, the same can be said about the work of Friends of the IDF, which specializes in providing that extra assistance or care needed to a soldier–a courageous and sterling defender of Klal Yisrael. These are brave kids who deserve our support, and it is vital to come out in force on May 27 to show these young men and women that we care about them and their wellbeing.
As you can see, we are a busy bunch with important things to do; the onion omelets and carving stations are only secondary when you take a step back and view the abundance of things on the agenda and on our plates, so to speak. v
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