Mr. David Weiss learning with his sons
Mr. David Weiss learning with his sons
Mr. David Weiss learning with his sons

By Chanita Teitz

We just got home from a lovely family sheva berachos in honor of our great-nephew and his kallah, Eli and Esther Press (Swerdlik). Mazal tov to the entire Press, Teitz, and Swerdlik families. May we continue to celebrate “only simchas”!

Here at Astor Brokerage, my daughter-in-law has joined our sales staff. All of you young Chofetz Chaim couples–or anyone else looking to buy something in Kew Gardens Hills, Kew Gardens, or anywhere else in Queens–call and ask for Chaya Teitz.

As mentioned previously, a kosher Dunkin’ Donuts has opened in the shopping center on Main Street and Union Turnpike.

As 2013 ends, there are reviews everywhere of what seems to be one of the nation’s most disappointing years. Climate disasters, the struggling economy, the government shutdown, Obamacare, and international relations have most people disillusioned with our government.

Right now, what hurts me is the release of more terrorists from Israeli jails. Whatever is going on behind the scenes that we don’t understand, it still appears as if Israel has lost its backbone. Why does Israel have to make these concessions for a peace process that is a fraud to begin with?

Those of us who start the New Year at Rosh Hashanah know that whatever is in store for us was decided then, and whatever happens throughout the world really centers on what is best for Klal Yisrael. We should just continue to be deserving of Hashem’s love and protection.

Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim of Queens Avos U’Bonim.

The program coordinator is Rabbi Reuven Kesherim. The founders are Dr. Ari Walfish and Mr. Elisha Hisiger, and the assistants are Shloimie Pollack, Mordechai Polinsky, and Mordechai Weiss. The program is dedicated by Mrs. Toby Moskovits in memory of her father, Reb Avrohom Yitzchak ben Reb Shmuel Uziel (Mr. Abe Schwarzman).

In current times, it has become difficult for parents to earn a living and support their families. When many fathers come home, they don’t have the energy to spend time learning with their children.

We understand that the mesorah of father to son is the basis of our religion, and it is imperative that children spend time learning with their fathers. One of the best ways of dealing with this issue is the Motzaei Shabbos Father and Son Learning Program.

The advent of the learning program is one of great fulfillment for both participants. Many fathers confide that they have not enjoyed learning in a long time as much as they do in these programs. It is no wonder that this is the way that the Torah was supposed to be taught, generation to generation to generation. It gives fathers a tremendous pride to be actively involved in their sons’ chinuch, and it warms the hearts of the mothers when they see their husbands and children coming home, smiling from ear to ear.

The Avos U’Bonim program also makes sure to accommodate all children and pairs up children whose fathers cannot come to learn with them with “older brothers.” This way, nobody has to feel left out of this incredible learning experience because of personal considerations. In these “older brother, younger brother” relationships, children can develop a connection to an older individual who will influence them positively.

Learning is shorter for the younger participants than for the older children. The younger ones have around a half-hour of learning, followed by gym time and fresh hot pizza, along with raffles and great prizes. The older group leaves after an hour of learning and they get their playing time and a melaveh malkah. The fun schedule serves to ingrain in the children that learning is not a chore, but rather an exciting enjoyable experience.

Last Motzaei Shabbos, despite the four inches of snow we had, over 100 boys that came with their fathers to learn at Avos U’Bonim! These Motzaei Shabbos learning programs stand in good stead for the children down the line and, as mentioned before, strengthen the parents’ commitment to their sons’ chinuch.

Bais Yaakov of Queens, in a League of Its Own!

BYQ’s eighth-grade sports league got off to a great start this Tuesday! Mrs. Sarah Bergman initiated the program to promote an experience that lends itself to collaborative teamwork. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Parent Association, they are able to offer the girls an invigorating, fun, and meaningful program.

Morah Pfeiffer, the league coach, began the day with expectations of what it means to be part of a team. She emphasized that one’s true middos are evident on the court. Envisioning oneself as part of a larger unit is a valuable lesson for life.

The entire eighth grade formed into four league teams and competed against one another in machanayim and basketball. The captains did an outstanding job leading their teams, keeping the games competitive and fun at the same time. The girls displayed the beautiful middos one expects of a Bais Yaakov role model. Everyone shared the spotlight and cheered for each other and displayed derech eretz, complying with the rules of the game and respecting the referee’s calls.

Shevach High School Annual Shabbaton at the Hudson Valley Resort.

For the Shabbos of December 21, Parashas Sh’mos, Shevach High School students were treated to a special Shabbaton with the faculty and their families. Rebbetzin Rochelle Hirtz, principal of Shevach High School, welcomed the girls before Kabbolas Shabbos. She introduced the theme of the Shabbos–“Ki Lecha Levad Eineinu Teluyos”–as seen through Parashas Sh’mos. She explained that the turning point of the slavery in Mitzrayim was when Bnei Yisrael looked heavenward and cried out to Hakodosh Baruch Hu. At that moment, a moment of tefillah, Hakadosh Baruch Hu responded and “paid attention” to their suffering.

Rebbetzin Hirtz included a beautiful insight brought down by Rav Shimshon Pincus, zt’l, who comments that when one cries out in pain, even if it is in response to a physical discomfort, he should use that opportunity to channel the cry toward Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Therefore, when Bnei Yisrael cried because of the intense physical labor, it was then that Hakadosh Baruch Hu responded and set in motion the stages for the geulah. Rebbetzin Hirtz concluded by expressing the hope that the Shabbos would prove to be an opportunity for growth in the area of tefillah and connection to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn, noted author, lecturer, and mohel, addressed the students after Kabbolas Shabbos. In his inimitable fashion, he defined the theme of “Ki Lecha Levad Eineinu Teluos,” taken from the Yom Kippur davening. He spoke of emunah even amidst challenges. Students were moved to reconnect, through tefillah, to Hashem. Since we daven more than 1,000 times a year, said Rabbi Krohn, it is no wonder that tefillah needs strengthening. He offered suggestions on how to do this. Recognizing hashgachah pratis in our daily lives goes a long way in solidifying one’s emunah. Rabbi Krohn ended with a moving story connecting the Holocaust to our times.

Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, and husband of Rebbitzen Chani Grunblatt, assistant principal of Shevach High School, spoke Shabbos morning after Mussaf. He opened his address with a touching vignette of hashgachah pratis in which a chance encounter on an airplane, combined with a rabbi’s firm adherence to his principles, were the catalysts in the rabbi’s receiving a $2 million donation from a Jew who had always refused to contribute to any Orthodox cause.

Rabbi Grunblatt then connected the parashah to the challenge many people face of focusing too much on their individual weaknesses, bringing them to despair, which renders them incapable of accomplishing their goals. Even Moshe Rabbeinu hesitated at first in accepting Hashem’s mission, because of his speech impediment. If we realize, though, how much Hashem loves us, and that He alone determines success, our fears would be replaced with a sense of security. Focusing on our bitachon gives us hope under all circumstances. And this sense of security opens our mind to creative ideas and solutions to any obstacle that may arise. Through Rabbi Grunblatt’s clear and insightful thoughts, the Shevach students internalized the fact that emunah truly is the key to a successful life.

For Shalosh Seudos, Rabbi Yonoson Hirtz, rav of Utopia Jewish Center, mechanech, and husband of Shevach’s principal Rebbetzin Rochelle Hirtz, addressed the girls on the topic of tears. He related that in Tehillim 39 we ask Hashem “to my tears do not be mute.” The Gemara (Berachos 32b) says that from the day that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, the heavenly gates of tefillah were locked but the gates of tears have not been locked. Rav Dessler, in his Michtav M’Eliyahu, teaches that tefillah that comes from the depths of one’s heart, a tefillah that leads to tears, is indeed a powerful tool through which Hakadosh Baruch Hu hears us and responds.

Rabbi Hirtz concluded with a beautiful p’shat on the famous words “Rochel Mevacah Al Baneheh.” The grammatically correct translation of “mevakah” is to cause someone else to cry. Rochel Imeinu is crying because we are not crying and she is trying to cause us to cry. Hashem has put us through the pain and suffering of galus so that we should cry out to Him and beg Him to redeem us. When Hashem will hear our cries, He will tell Rochel Imeinu “minee koleich m’bechee v’einayich m’dimah”–Rochel, you can stop crying, because Bnei Yisrael will now be returned to their boundaries. It was a truly inspiring message that the girls absorbed as Shabbos drew to a close.

Bnos Malka Academy Receives Grant.

The eighth-grade students of Bnos Malka Academy have been exploring the history of immigration within the United States and have come to appreciate what a beautiful mosaic we truly are. Their exploration of the historical topic has developed into their own investigations into their family backgrounds and cultures.

The students were introduced to the topic by tracking their countries of origin and were amazed to find they originally came from countries such as Poland, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, France, Ukraine, Israel, Hungary, and many more. They were intrigued and began to inquire into their family history and ancestry. The students took the initiative and began contacting numerous family members and researching their personal histories.

Fueled by the students’ interests, the project has become a much larger entity. Eighth-grade teacher and genealogist enthusiast, Mrs. Julie Faska, was delighted to hear that the school has received a grant from, which will provide the students with free access to their large database. The girls are able to use the computer lab and continue their research. Due to the wealth of primary and secondary sources available to them, they have been able to create a much more complete picture of their origins and ancestors.

Bnos Malka’s executive director, Michael Salzbank, who began research on his own family tree 11 years ago, gave a brief demonstration to the girls and explained how quickly they can identify “lost” relatives. “My tree began with a handful of known names and today has over 2,500 relatives.”

In order to further understand their history, the students have “experienced” immigration themselves. They visited Ellis Island earlier in the year, and in their social studies class they completed a virtual stimulation of the journey to Ellis Island and entering America. They were given an immigrant profile and, while going through the steps of immigration, they jotted down their thoughts and emotions in their journals. The end results were beautiful and moving diary entries in which they reflect upon their arrival, hopes, and dreams.

The project crosses a number of disciplines: it brings to life the history of immigration, it develops research and analytical skills, and it culminates in a narrative depicting both the unique story of each family and, in a strange way, the commonality that all of us share.

The United States is a beautiful mosaic–rich in culture and history. As the students of Bnos Malka continue their research, they have come to understand that their own families’ beliefs, yearnings, hopes, and bravery have enabled them to pursue their dreams and ambitions.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, January 5, CHAZAQ in conjunction with Beth Gavriel presents Charlie Harary in “The Secrets to Getting your Prayers Answered!” Refreshments will be served at 8:00 p.m. Lecture scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Men and women are welcome. Admission is free. Location: Beth Gavriel Community Center, 66-35 108th St. Forest Hills For more information, call or text 917-617-3636, e-mail, or visit

The Jewish Heritage Center is proud to announce the start of a Kew Gardens minyan for high-school-age boys. The minyan will take place in the basement of Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah 117-06 84th Ave. at 9:00 a.m. There will be a hot Kiddush with chulent and sushi. For more information, or any questions, call Avraham Portnoy at 646-409-8196 or e-mail

The Jewish Heritage Center Teen Division is launching a Thursday night chulent and learning program for high-school-age boys. Learn relevant and exciting topics. There will be chulent, Carlos and Gabby’s, and more. Program will start this Thursday night, 9:30 p.m., at the Jewish Heritage Center, 68-29 Main Street. For more information, e-mail or call 718-575-3100.

Business professionals and owners, join the Jewish Business Development and Networking Group for a networking breakfast, Wednesday, January 8, 7:45 a.m. Arrive as early as 7:30 a.m. to start networking at a new Kew Gardens Hills location. Meet a group of Jewish professionals looking to make connections with other Jewish professionals, to help grow your business and enhance your professional “contact” database. Professions include lawyers, computer professionals, IT specialists, designers, accountants, printers, dentists, funeral directors, brokers, photographers, and many more. E-mail to RSVP and get the exact location of the meeting. This meeting is not intended for those seeking employment opportunities. Looking forward to networking with you!

Family Caregiver Breakfast. Plan for now and the future in conjunction with Connect to Care. Sunday, January 12 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the Young Israel of Queens Valley, 141-55 77th Avenue, Kew Garden Hills. RSVP to Raizy Mushell, LMSW at 718-225-6750, ext. 212 or

The panel and topics will include: “How To Talk To Your Family About Planning For The Future,” Jane C. Bardavid, LCSW, director of the CAPE mental health clinic at the Samuel Field Y; “Understanding The Legal Aspect Of A Caregiver,” Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq., attorney of Ronald Fatoullah & Associates; “Planning For The Future For Individuals With Dementia,” Martha Wolf, director of community dementia care at Parker Jewish Institution; “Maintaining A Safe Home As You Age,” Dr. Rosario Accardi, of Action Motion Physical Therapy; and “Don’t Forget About You, a Tribute and Appreciation To Caregivers,” Megan Isenberg, LMSW, director of caregiver program at SNAP. Space is limited. Advance registration required.

Annual Tu B’Shvat Yahrtzeit shiur for women on Wednesday, January 15, 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Degel Israel, Main St. and 68th Drive in Kew Gardens Hills. The guest speaker will be the noted Rebbetzin Yael Marcus of Kehillas Ishei Yisrael. Her topic will be “Tu B’Shvat: Appreciating the Process.” The shiur is sponsored by Rivkie Leiman, Pearl Markovitz, and Evelyn Ocken in memory of their mothers Sarah bas Harav Avraham, a’h, Tzivia bas Eliezer, a’h, and Devorah bas Mordechai, a’h. If you would like to cosponsor this event in memory of your mother, grandmother, or any female relative, please call Evelyn Ocken at 718-268-0439 or Pearl Markovitz at 201-836-4309 or Rivkie Leiman at 718-793-4644, or e-mail or All proceeds will go to the Keren Hachesed fund of Cong. Degel Israel/Ohel Rachel which provides for needy families in Israel. Please make checks payable to Cong. Ohel Rachel with a note for the Keren Hachesed. v

Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here