Excitement is mounting as the date for the annual Torah Academy for Girls dinner–January 21–draws closer. The journal chairmen, Menachem Kagan and Yehudah Biber, are looking forward to having a record crowd of attendees join the TAG family at the Sands. There is indeed much to celebrate, including the start of the final phase of TAG’s ambitious expansion program, which will include 14 new classrooms, offices, and the remodeling of the auditorium. TAG is certainly grateful to all those who have contributed to ensure that this dream become a reality, and especially to the dinner’s honorees. The Guests of Honor are to be Mr. Avrumi and Mrs. Ronit Schwartz, and Rabbi Yechezkel and Mrs. Anat Hartman are to accept the Kesser Torah Award; those couples were the focus of last week’s article. This week, we highlight the accomplishments of Mr. Alan and Dr. Wendy Devorah Gerson, scheduled recipients of the Generations Award, as well as Rabbi Yaakov Feitman, scheduled recipient of the Rabbi Moshe Weitman, z’l, Memorial Award.
Generations Awardees: Mr. Alan and Dr. Wendy Devorah Gerson. To see that Alan and Wendy Gerson are involved and committed, one only has to look at their lives and the roles they play in fostering Yiddishkeit, strengthening Torah institutions, and supporting local mosdos.
Wendy Devorah Gerson is a devoted daughter of Neil and Judy Reisman and feels fortunate to have such wonderful role models in her life. Wendy grew up in Woodmere, attended TAG, and feels a deep kesher with the school, as well as with her fellow alumnae. She is playing an active role in establishing a vibrant Alumnae Association. Both the Gerson girls attended and graduated from TAG. Esti, now married to Mordechai Helmreich, looks forward to expanding the generations of TAG by registering her daughter Ahuva for next year’s kindergarten class. Daughter Rikki is married to Eli Jakubovic and presently lives in Lawrence.
Wendy obtained her master’s degree in early childhood education from Queens College. During her college years, she worked together with a certain young man named Alan Gerson and was active in the Center for Return, an organization that helps Jewish college-aged students rediscover their Judaism. Alan grew up in Queens and earned a BA in political science and communications at Queens College. He earned his law degree from Hofstra Law School and is currently a partner in the law firm of Bruce Montague & Partners in Queens.
The Gersons originally lived in Kew Gardens Hills and their boys attended Yeshiva Ohr Yisroel, and Wendy served as the director of the Gan Eden Preschool for many years. After Wendy moved to Lawrence, the youngest members of Yeshiva Darchei Torah have been the beneficiaries ever since 1987, when she became the preschool director. Wendy, who has since earned her doctorate, has instilled a love of Torah and middos tovos and is a most popular and beloved preschool director. The Gerson boys, Yossi and Aharon, were talmidim of the yeshiva. Yossi currently is in his fourth year at Einstein Medical School, and Aharon and his wife Adina recently celebrated the birth of their son Shua.
The Gersons are members of Congregation Heichal Dovid and are known for their hachnasas orchim and outreach. Their home truly reflects their Torah hashkafos and both young and old feel comfortable and welcome at all times.
Mentioning TAG always brings a smile to Wendy’s face. As she recalls, “I became a teacher because of the amazing moros and teachers I had at TAG. I was thrilled to be able to send my two daughters to TAG and look forward to sharing nachas when my granddaughters will attend.” It is obvious that the yesodos that the Gersons have instilled in their family span generations.
Rabbi Moshe Weitman, z’l, Memorial Award: Rabbi Yaakov Feitman. Accepting the Rabbi Moshe Weitman, z’l, Memorial Award holds special meaning for Rabbi Yaakov Feitman. Their paths crossed many years ago when, as a young principal, Rabbi Yaakov Feitman, yibadel l’chaim, was paired with the venerable Rabbi Moshe Weitman, z’l, to chair a Torah Umesorah convention. Little did either of these special mechanchim expect to one day work together to imbue Torah and hashkafos into the talmidos of TAG High School.
Rabbi Feitman has spent many years working for the klal and in chinuch. He was the founding menahel of a number of yeshivos, including Yeshivah Rabbi Yaakov Yosef in Staten Island. A prolific and popular author, he has written extensively on topics of hashkafah, Churban Europa, halacha, and biographies of gedolim. Currently, the rav writes a popular column in Mishpacha Magazine, “Blueprints,” which provides a Torah perspective on the modern world. Rabbi Feitman lectures internationally and serves as rav of Kehillas Bais Yehudah Tzvi in Cedarhurst.
Six years ago, Rabbi Moshe Weitman hired Rabbi Feitman to share his vast knowledge and Torah hashkafos with the talmidos of TAG High School. Halacha, Pirkei Avos, Koheles, Navi, and Kuzari are among the subjects that Rabbi Feitman teaches to the tenth-, eleventh-, and twelfth-grade talmidos. In addition, the entire high school benefits from the comprehensive shiur that he presents prior to any yom tov, which focuses on halacha and hashkafah. Rabbi Feitman is also a valuable resource when it comes to preparing for any number of “y’mei iyun” that the school presents during the year.
When asked what impressed Rabbi Feitman most about Rabbi Weitman, z’l, he shared the following thoughts: “Although there are numerous aspects of Rav Moshe Weitman’s greatness which made a profound impression upon me, the one most outstanding middah was his incredible mesirus nefesh for chinuch, mesorah, and his beloved talmidos. Like many, I will never forget his last parashah talks and other shmuessen to the high-school students, when he utilized every bit of strength and breath he had, to share his Torah thoughts with them. The incredible effort was not lost upon them. Besides the usual eloquent words, profound thoughts, humor, mussar, and immortal guidance, that last year he also shared his lifeblood and very essence with the TAG girls privileged to absorb the inspiring scene. He was their and our Moshe Rabbeinu, giving his last berachos and Torah. This mesirus nefesh remains indelible on my own neshamah forever.”
It will certainly be most fitting for Torah Academy for Girls to present the Rabbi Moshe Weitman, z’l, Memorial Award to Rabbi Yaakov Feitman, shlita. Rav Feitman not only shares the Torah knowledge and hashkafos that Rabbi Weitman, z’l, worked his whole life to instill in his talmidos, but is carrying them forward to ensure the continuity of Rabbi Weitman’s legacy.
Torah Academy for Girls looks forward to building on its success in chinuch ha’banos as it enters its 51st year of serving the entire community. TAG looks forward to greeting you at the Sands on Tuesday evening, January 21, to help the school “embark on the final bricks.” v