Joan Serrano Laufer, Linda Spiegel, Jane C. Bardavid, Jed A. Levine, and Yoel Lichstein
Joan Serrano Laufer, Linda Spiegel, Jane C. Bardavid, Jed A. Levine, and Yoel Lichstein
Joan Serrano Laufer, Linda Spiegel, Jane C. Bardavid, Jed A. Levine, and Yoel Lichstein

By Chanita Teitz

We just returned from spending a week in Eretz Yisrael for Purim with our children and grandchildren. Purim in Israel is amazing! Everyone is involved in the joyous spirit, even the secular Israelis. In the religious neighborhoods, everyone is busy packing their mishloach manos, just like here. We took a ride on Purim (Sunday) to Bnei Brak to experience Purim there and then went back to Yerushalayim to have Purim on Sunday night and Monday, Shushan Purim. What an experience!

The costumes were all amazing and everyone dresses up–even the bus drivers. On Monday, one of the chareidi radio stations came to Bayit V’gan, parked in front of our kids’ building, and played music for several hours. The entire neighborhood was walking back and forth for a few hours. My son’s talmidim came by with mishloach manos, and our seudah was delicious.

Besides taking each of the grandchildren on their own special outing, we discovered the old railway station which has been turned into a new mall called Tachana Rishona. It is designed like a boardwalk with cafés and restaurants, a bike path, shops, and a large ice-skating rink. Next time we will take the grandchildren, iy’H.

We checked out some real estate in Bayit V’gan. Real estate in Yerushalayim is way above what most people can afford. Most of the new luxury buildings in newly gentrified areas are marketed to wealthy investors. But even in a quiet, residential neighborhood like Bayit V’gan, a three-bedroom walk-up in an older building asks $800,000 and up. Renovated apartments are $1 million and up.

There are some better-priced areas in the north and south of Israel, and Israelis are buying apartments for investments, getting a current return on investment and for future appreciation.

Tourism was busy with mostly European, Asian, and African tourists. I am always amazed at how reverent they are at the Kotel. The Women of the Wall should be so respectful–although it seems that their activity has died down significantly.

As always, it is bittersweet when we leave, especially since this was a very short trip. The kids always ask us to stay longer. But it wouldn’t be any easier to leave once we’ve gotten used to being there and the kids have gotten used to having us there for longer. And I know my grandchildren here would not be too happy to have us away for a month or more, although I find it really tempting. So, kids, are you ready to come with us?

So here we are back in Kew Gardens Hills as if we never left, and that is exactly how I feel when I arrive there. It feels so familiar and warm. It’s home.

Upcoming Events

Nusach Carlebach Davening. This Friday evening (Shabbos Mevorchim), Parashas Tazria, Parashas HaChodesh, March 28, (and every Friday evening of Shabbos Mevorchim) there will be a Nusach Carlebach davening at Yeshiva Kesser Torah. Minchah will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will conclude about 8:15 p.m. Men and women are welcome!

Bikur Cholim of Queens Women’s Melaveh Malkah. Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein will discuss “Where Your Minute Goes a Mile” Motzaei Shabbos Parashas Tazria, March 29, 9:15 p.m. at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel, 147-02 73rd Avenue. Refreshments will be served. Suggested donation $10. For more information, call 718-380-7433.

Symposium: The Affordable Care Act under Jewish Law. Sunday, March 30, 6:30—9:15 p.m. at the Lander College for Men. Men and women are invited. Refreshments will be served.

Ruach Unishama Boys Choir Post-Purim Concert. Sunday, March 30, 5:00 p.m. in Bais Yaakov of Queens (124-50 Metropolitan Ave, Kew Gardens, NY 11415). For more information, e-mail

The Big Chazaq Event II, Sunday, March 30. Featuring Charlie Harary, Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, and Rabbi Paysach Krohn. Special musical appearance by The Chevra and Eli Gerstner and special show by magician Marc Garfinkel. Forest Hills High School 67-01 110 St., Queens, NY 11375. Door opens 6:30 p.m. Event begins 7:00 p.m. Tickets: $25, $36, $52, VIP. To order tickets, call or text 917-617-3636 or 646-541-6833, e-mail, or visit Visit the new online payment site to buy tickets Proceeds go toward Chazaq outreach programs.

Recent Events

Dementia Symposium at CenterLight’s Margaret Tietz Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. There wasn’t an empty seat in Margaret Tietz’s main-floor recreation room and dining room on March 19, as a crowd of providers and caregivers for individuals with dementia gathered for an eye-opening symposium by experts in the field. “Dementia: Research, Treatment, and Caregiver Support,” presented by Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in conjunction with Samuel Field YM/YWHA and the Queensboro Council for Social Welfare, was a vital community event that provided attendees with the latest facts, studies, programs, and resources.

While the crowd enjoyed a delicious breakfast spread, Yoel Lichstein, executive director at Margaret Tietz, opened the program and introduced the first speaker–Jed A. Levine, MA, executive vice president and director of programs and services of the Alzheimer’s Association. The rapt audience attentively took notes as Jed outlined the hard-hitting numbers, current research, and the assistance and support provided by the NYC chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. With one American developing Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds, this is one of the largest health crises facing our nation. Also, he encouraged everyone to sign up as an advocate to help make Alzheimer’s research and support a national priority.

Jane C. Bardavid, LCSW, director of the Community Advisory Program for Elderly at Samuel Field YM & YWHA, focused on caregiver stress and the coping skills needed to shoulder this lonely and overwhelming burden. She poignantly described the grieving process one undergoes as one mourns a relationship that once was. To combat the tremendous risk of anxiety, depression, and social isolation that caregivers face, she delineated various ways to develop resilience and manage stress. In addition, Jane shared the Y’s expanded programs and resources, noting how important it is to implement routines, which is extremely soothing to those with dementia.

Executive director of the Queensboro Council on Social Welfare, Joan Serrano Laufer, LMSW, concluded with underlining the importance of caretakers taking care of themselves, and that even though it’s hard, one should never refrain from asking for help. She encouraged everyone to “keep fighting, keep advocating.” She said, “Coming together as we did today is part of the solution.” The program wrapped up with the panel taking questions from the audience.

With more and more baby boomers entering the age of greatest risk for dementia every day, the challenges nursing facilities and families face keep growing. To enhance the many programs already in place to support residents with dementia and their loved ones, Margaret Tietz will be partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association on future projects and setting up a caregiver support group. This vital symposium spearheads Margaret Tietz’s new Health Education Initiative, a program featuring quarterly seminars to educate and inform the community about best health practices. For more information about the Health Education Initiative, or to view the complete symposium online, visit Margaret Tietz is a member of the CenterLight Health System.

Bais Yaakov Student Places Second in Daily News Spelling Bee. On Thursday, March 20, the 50th annual Daily News New York City Spelling Bee took place. The 132 participants met at the Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan. Sixty-eight students in grades 5—8 competed that day.

Devorah Simon, who represented her school last year, is an eighth-grade student at Bais Yaakov of Queens. This time, she was awarded second place!

Rabbi Gewirtz, dean of BYQ, and Mrs. Bergman and Mrs. Reisbaum, general studies principal and assistant principal, expressed their excitement over Devorah’s placement in the spelling bee. “Devorah’s willingness to participate and efforts to succeed were impressive to all of us. Her winning second place is ‘icing on the cake’ for all of her hard work. We are thrilled for her and her family. Everyone was rooting for her, and when she announced it to the class on Friday, the cheering was thunderous.”

The Daily News printed the following:

Only Anil, Russell Leung, and Devorah Simon remained for the last seven rounds, with Anil coming through with “metachrosis” in Round 17 after the other two students had misspelled their respective words. After a brief spell-off, Devorah Simon, 13, was awarded second-place after nailing “paranymph.”

“I came here to get past Round 2, which is where I got last year,” said Devorah, an eighth-grader at Bais Yaakov Academy of Queens.

As CBS 2’s Diane Macedo reported, the day started with 68 competitors. The pack was eventually whittled down to one, but the two runners-up didn’t make it easy for the winner. Several late rounds were so challenging, in some cases all three got the word wrong.

“We haven’t had one of those in like the past six years but you know it’s expected.”

With such comments about the level of competition this year, Devorah Simon’s placement is even more impressive.

Congratulations to Devorah, and much nachas to her family and school! We look forward to her continued success.

Shevach Senior Headed to Yerushalayim for Mathematics Ulpaniada. Shevach High School participated this year for the first time in an exciting international math competition. The Mathematics Ulpaniada is a competition for frum girls promoting problem-solving through mathematical thinking. This academically stimulating contest provides girls with an opportunity to compete with other high-school girls worldwide. There are three rounds to the competition, with the first two taking place in the girls’ own high schools. The third and final round of the Ulpaniada is held in Yerushalayim. In the first round, about 140 educational institutions participated from Israel and abroad. Thousands of students rose to the challenge and competed. Seven Shevach students succeeded in Round One–ninth-grader Adina Finkel, eleventh-graders Rochel Chanales, Devorah Kasirer, Shulamis Mirsky, Esti Peikes, and Leah Orly Pinchasov, and twelfth-grader Tsirel Pacht.

Upon completion of the second round, which required an advanced level of mathematics acumen, Shevach is proud to announce that Tsirel Pacht, a senior at Shevach, qualified for the third and final round. Tsirel will be one of approximately 20 finalists from five continents who will be flown to Yerushalayim on Tuesday, March 25, iy’H. They will then be joining the Israeli high-school finalists for the most challenging level of the competition. We wish Tsirel much hatzlachah as she represents Shevach in this unique opportunity.

Condolences . . .

To Dr. Saul Wischnitzer and family on the petirah of his wife. HaMakom yenachem eschem b’soch sh’ar aveilei Tziyon v’Yerushalayim. 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


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