Winning At Swimming Thanks To Councilman Richards

Dear Editor,

I am writing to share with the community my recent experience with Councilman Donovan Richards and to express my tremendous gratitude to him and his incredibly talented and devoted staff.

For 20 years, I have run a summer program in the Far Rockaway area. Finding proper facilities is always difficult, but securing a swimming pool where our children can swim is our greatest obstacle. Pools are high-ranking commodities during the summer. This challenge is compounded by our great emphasis to preserve our values of modesty, compelling us to separate swimming by gender. Locating an available pool large enough to accommodate our number of children with the option of separate swimming is an arduous task.

For over 15 years, we had been able to find a near-perfect solution to this challenge. Our boys have used the swimming pool at Far Rockaway High School as a private rental for typically an hour and a half to two hours daily. Even though there were always city swim programs hosted in Far Rockaway High, times were allotted to our group when we could utilize the pool. This afforded our boys a fantastic opportunity to delight in one of summer’s favorite activities in a manner that did not in any way compromise the standards and values that their families imbued within them.

This summer we were faced with an unprecedented threat, as New York City sought to take full control of the pool to be used for a new city program. Every effort I made to help our children proved futile. I called the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula, and they reached out to Councilman Richards and his wonderful office staff. Immediately, our request was greeted with care and concern. Councilman Richards and his staff dedicated themselves to seeking a fair resolution that would be satisfactory to all parties involved. In every phone call to the councilman’s office, I was always treated with respect and understanding, and was continually updated with any relevant developments. My initial anxiety and skepticism gave way to cautious optimism, and ultimately pure admiration as I witnessed their determination and tremendous efforts on our behalf.

Not so much to my surprise, I discovered that the royal treatment I received from the councilman and his staff was in no way unique. In sharing my experience with members of my community, I only found uniform sentiments from others who had similar stories echoing extraordinary efforts by the councilman to assist them.

May G‑d bless the councilman and his staff with health, strength, and happiness that they may continue to do exceptional work on behalf of our community.

Ben Jacobi

Director, Camp Machaneh Yisrael


Dear Editor,

Regarding Achiezer’s CIMBY–“Chesed in My Backyard” initiative:

We have been living in this community for 37 years. My wife and I can be considered hardworking middle-class people all our lives, and we’ve B’H been happily married for 46 years, with 4 children and 11 grandchildren.

Thankfully the next generation is blossoming before our eyes. We watched as parents, and now as grandparents we continue to watch the struggle for kids to maintain normalcy in an increasingly “not normal” world.

Every week and every day is another challenge and another ad for another new thrill. Another new Nintendo game and another new “must-have” gadget. Another movie, another obsession, or another new iPhone. (Forget baseball cards.)

My wife and I love our children and grandchildren and are guilty like many others of allowing these items into their lives. We all want to spoil them and keep them happy. However, for the first time in our lives we are more than proud to live in this community. Really proud. When did we ever have an organization or an entity or a movement pushing us to do kindness, convincing and asking us to do chesed? To involve our families in chesed, and to offer a variety of chesed opportunities.

How powerful a message! How fortunate we are to live in a neighborhood that promotes this!

In an era of one obsession after another and one tragic story after the other, this organization is a breath of fresh air and a promise of a prosperous and unified people that we truly can be.

Shelly and Zev Friedman


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