Chaverim To The Rescue

Dear Editor,

Raised in a climate that never sees snow, I have yet to master all the skills necessary to survive a winter like this one. Thank-you to Dovi of Chaverim, who dropped what he was doing to push my car out of the snowbank onto which I had, in a moment of poor judgment, driven it.

Not only did he arrive promptly, he completed the task without ever laughing or rolling his eyes at my predicament. In recognition of the kindness of the Chaverim volunteers, may Hashem remove any unwanted obstacles from their paths through life.

Tizku l’mitzvot.

Sarah Yastrab


Don’t Put The Shovels Away So Soon

Dear Editor,

Why is it OK for homeowners on Broadway in Lawrence, Cedarhurst, and Woodmere to ignore their responsibility to shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes? Time and again, days and days after a snowstorm, pedestrians must struggle to walk on the sidewalks, risking a fall on the ice and packed snow. The elderly and infirm, and those with wheelchairs or strollers, have no chance of passage, and even strong, healthy walkers are endangered with each step taken.

We walkers are forced to walk in the street. There is absolutely no leeway for a pedestrian, since the parking area of the road is covered in snow and ice as well. Cars are speeding down the thoroughfares, heedless to our fear as they pass mere inches from our moving bodies.

This makes no sense to me. In our towns, we are forced to climb over small snow mountains to insert our quarters into parking meters, risking a ticket for non-compliance, while the homeowners remain scot-free as they endanger walkers. In New York City, shovel-scoffers are issued fines ranging from $150 to $350. Here is an easy opportunity for our towns to collect funds by ticketing those who don’t remove snow from their walkways. I’m not talking about cul-de-sacs or small side streets that rarely even get plowed, but homeowners on the avenues like Central Avenue, West Broadway, Broadway, Rockaway Turnpike, Woodmere Boulevard, Cedarhurst Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Peninsula Boulevard.

I understand that we have some snowbirds in the area, but they must make the effort to have a neighbor or service take care of this critical responsibility. Today I noticed that private walkways and even driveways were cleared, while the path directly in front of the house was left an icy mess. I don’t think they would enjoy dealing with a lawsuit should someone G‑d forbid hurt themselves badly on the hidden sidewalk.

We learn in the Torah that one must not put a stumbling block before a person. Where is the respect due to our neighbors? I’ve already slipped twice this winter while walking very mindfully and slowly, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Hoping my neighbors stay safe and warm–

Miriam B. Abrahams


A Kiddush Hashem

Dear Editor,

I decided I wanted to go to the physical therapist and then to Brach’s for food this afternoon. Sounds simple, right? Rabbot machshavot b’lev ish v’atzat Hashem hi takum. I got to the garage and began backing out. There was snow and ice by the curb, but I thought I’d go quickly and get over the hump. Well, I got stuck on the hump. I couldn’t go forwards or backwards. A passerby tried pushing the car first from the front, then from the back. No go. I called Chaverim (twice) but there weren’t enough people to come. I called Geico. They said someone would come within the hour. I called Hatzalah (needing the bathroom by then, and afraid to leave the car straddling the curb at a 90-degree angle). Two guys from Hatzalah came, saw that they couldn’t do anything with the car, and called Shomrim. Hatzalah helped me over the ice and I made it back home.

Meanwhile, Geico’s service station truck arrived and a great guy from Shomrim came, too. The Geico person had to schlep the car over the hump with chains and the Shomrim person (Eliezer Fuld) asked if I had a shovel. Lo and behold, there was a metal shovel in the garage which I had never before noticed. Eliezer began hacking away at the ice and cleared a path to the garage. I decided to forgo the trip to the PT and Brach’s, and Eliezer put the car back in its home. The Geico person was so impressed with Eliezer’s shoveling/hacking. He said he wished his own son would clean away the snow for him like that. I said, “He’s not my son.” Then he shook hands with him and told him what a good person he is.

Mi k’amcha Yisrael. There’s a time to do chesed and a time to receive chesed. May the Eibeshter see the chesed that Am Yisrael does for each other and bring an end to the galus “tekef umiyad”!


A Proud Jew

Lose, Win, Win

Dear Editor,

The news that the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach is planning to relocate to the Five Towns and leave Long Beach, its home since 1954, is painful to the members of our community. Granted that the demographics may warrant such a move from the standpoint of efficiency, economics, and consolidation, it does not diminish the sense of loss that will be experienced by our proud and well-established Jewish community. For many years, Long Beach was proud to be the host community for Yeshivas Lev.

This sense of loss stems from a wide range of factors that I believe need to be articulated, although admittedly it will not change what appears to be an inevitable HALB relocation.

It should not be forgotten that the Long Beach Jewish community founded the yeshiva, with representation from the broader community. The membership of the Young Israel of Long Beach played a pivotal role during the early years, motivated by their commitment to provide an excellent chinuch for their growing families. From today’s perspective in terms of HALB’s overwhelming success, exponential growth, and financial resources, it is easy to forget the Hebrew Academy of yesteryear. During those early years, funds were extremely scarce, for there were neither affluent benefactors nor a parent body able to support and provide the financial resources for the fledging institution.

Similarly, yeshiva education was not popular and there was a paucity of parents interested in sending their children to a yeshiva–to the extent that it was a great struggle to achieve even a modicum of enrollment respectability. However, the dedicated pioneers of the Long Beach community struggled with a sense of persistence, determination, and mesirus nefesh to make HALB a reality and to sustain it during that initial difficult period. It is interesting that the mission of these early visionaries in terms of educational excellence, uncompromised Torah/halachic standards, and a dedication to Israel remains the hallmark of HALB to this very day.

For many years, HALB served as an anchor for the Long Beach Jewish community. With many fewer yeshiva options available, almost all of the children from Long Beach attended HALB. Many of the early HALB teachers and rebbeim moved to Long Beach, where they raised their families and were integral to Jewish life in the community. Rabbi Armin Friedman, who served as the menahel of HALB for many years, lived in Long Beach together with his family. He remained a prominent and distinguished personality until his retirement and aliyah to Eretz Yisrael.

Aside from the nostalgic reflections, there remains a fundamental reality in that our community will be bereft of this makom Torah. The special merit of the young children’s voices reciting the aleph beis, reading from the Siddur, and, as they grow older, learning Chumash, Mishnayos, and Gemara, will no longer be part of our community. It is interesting that even for the people who have no direct contact with HALB, the very presence of a yeshiva has an indelible effect on all of its inhabitants.

Of somewhat lesser significance, the relocation of HALB will have an impact on some of the local kosher establishments and will inconvenience the children who live in Long Beach, as well as some teachers who will now have to travel farther to school.

Where do we go from here? I believe the Long Beach community will continue to strive and fortify itself as a desirable location for young families to relocate. Long Beach continues to provide all of the needs and fulfills all of the requirements typical of today’s Jewish communities.

With best wishes for much success and hatzlachah!

Chaim Wakslak, Rav

Young Israel of Long Beach

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