Last Sunday night I attended the 40th annual dinner for Shevach High School, honoring Rabbi and Mrs. Yitzchok Wuem with the Harbotzas Torah Award, Mrs. Shainie Teitz with the Shevach V’Hodaah Award, and establishing the Alan Jay Rosenberg, a’h, Scholarship Fund by the Rosenberg family.
The Bais Yaakov High School of Queens used to be housed in the Bais Yaakov elementary school building in Kew Gardens, but as Bais Yaakov continues to grow, they needed the space being used by the high school.
So a new building was purchased on Main Street and has been serving as Shevach – Shaarei Bnos Chayil, since then.
Dinner chairman and emcee was Mr. Heshy Neuman, who spoke about the growth and success of the school and presented the awards to the honorees.
Mrs. Rochelle Hirtz, principal of Shevach, spoke about the school, the exemplary faculty, and the students. Shevach girls are sought after by seminaries and colleges here and in Israel.
I attended the dinner in honor of my sister-in-law, Shainie Teitz, who is a warm and caring teacher who develops a strong kesher with her students both in school and outside school hours.
The program was interesting, entertaining, and inspirational. Mazal tov to the honorees, and may Shevach continue to grow and nurture our future bnos chayil.
Chazaq’s Uplifting Trip to Eretz Yisrael
This past week, hundreds of people from the United States came to Eretz Yisrael for Agudah’s annual Yarchei Kallah in Yerushalayim. Among them came a notable group from the Queens community who brought Rabbi Ilan Meirov, the director of the Chazaq organization, to join them on their three-day journey.
The group spent most of their trip holding private meetings with numerous gedolei Yisrael who shared divrei chizuk with them, while also learning about Chazaq’s life-changing work with public-school students. A touching moment was when Rav Moshe Shternbuch, Raavad of the Eidah Chareidis, told the group that supporting Chazaq’s programs for public-school students is the most important mitzvah one can be involved with. After writing a letter in a sefer Torah, the group danced with the elderly rav for several minutes.
Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, rosh yeshiva of Ateres Yisroel, was also visibly moved by Chazaq’s work. He was happy to hear that his talmid, Rav Dovid Yosef, gives his heart for Chazaq’s mission and offered to assist in any way possible. Chacham Shalom Cohen, rosh yeshiva of Porat Yosef, shared that saving one child is precious in the eyes of Hashem; how much more so when hundreds are being saved every year. He blessed the group to continue with their avodas ha’kodesh.
A highlight of the trip was when the group received a special visit from the current Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, HaRav Yitzchak Yosef, who joined them for a seudas mitzvah and gave a shiur for nearly an hour on the importance of learning halachah.
The chief rabbi shared that his relationship with Rabbi Meirov extends over a decade, when he assisted him with his first sefer and introduced him to his father, the late posek ha’dor Chacham Ovadia Yosef. He congratulated Rabbi Meirov on the success of Chazaq and encouraged the group to continue strong and to not be satisfied. “There is a lot of work to do and Chazaq must continue leading the way in inspiring the Queens community, especially the Bukharian community who are in need of some basic guidance to bring them closer to Hashem.”
The group spent the last few hours of the trip visiting gedolim in Bnei Brak. They were privileged to hear a private shiur from Rav Shimon Ba’adani and to receive berachos from Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Gershon Edelstein, amongst others.
Overall, the experience was one of great chizuk for the entire group as they renewed their commitment to learn and spread Torah in their respective communities.
Chazaq’s Amazing Shaping Lives Sunday School Program
Chazaq’s Shaping Lives Sunday School impacts the lives of hundreds of public-school children every week by providing learning and fun in six locations.
Recently, the program had their first Parent Breakfast in their Forest Hills branch. The Parent Breakfast, spearheaded by Shaping Lives executive director Daniel Gadayev, was a massive success. With many parents from this location in attendance, they were given a glimpse into what education their children receive on a weekly basis with a beautiful slideshow.
The program included a presentation of davening songs by the students, cupcake-decorating for both children and parents, and a lecture on parenting by Chazaq director Rabbi Ilan Meirov. A highlight of the program included students sharing their experiences of how the program impacted their lives. It was both amusing and inspirational to hear little children speaking in public, probably for the first time.
The beautiful gathering concluded with a parent workshop about positive parenting by Mrs. Galit Meirov, LMFT. Credit for the amazing progress of the students goes to Shaping Lives Forest Hills director Hannah Iskhakov, assistant director Adina Bracha Itzhaki, and all the amazing teachers, including Dina Babekov, Esther Akperov, Leah Ibragimov, Miriam Yakubov, Or Bracha Pinchasov, Sara Munarov, Sara Rivka Yakubov, Tamy Katanov, and Hannah Setareh.
Hannah Iskhakov voiced the feelings of the teachers when she said, “The students have learned so much over the past three years! Many came in not knowing what an aleph was, and now these same students are able to read fluently. Many are even currently learning to write in Hebrew script. We are so proud of them!”
To find out more information or to sign your child up for Chazaq’s Shaping Lives Sunday School Program, contact Danny at 917-705-1818.
Agudath Israel Of Kew Gardens Hills Commemorates An Everlasting Yovel
By Shabsie Saphirstein
The Agudath Israel of Kew Gardens Hills is celebrating a major milestone, marking 50 years of being a beacon of harbatzas Torah for Queens. The shul continues putting forth children who are mekadesh Shem Shamayim in striving to lead a life of Torah and worldly values, representing what it means to be a Jew in the 21st century. Parashas Mishpatim marks the monumental establishment of what was then known as the Zeirei Agudas Yisroel of Kew Gardens Hills.
Nachum Shmuel Hartman, president of the Agudath Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, expressed feelings of elation to have reached this significant achievement. “It is my berachah to the kehillah to continue strong for another 50 inspiring years.”
The vision began as a modest undertaking by a small group of young men yearning to launch their own minyan in the basement of Khal Machzikei Hadas currently under the leadership of Rabbi Henach Savitsky. Rabbi Yosef Gelernter along with Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, rav emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, encouraged the youth to start their own venture in the neighborhood.
With the help of Rabbi Yehoshua (Josh) Silbermintz, zt’l, of the Agudath Israel of America, seven men set out on the path to form the new synagogue. Nachum Shmuel Hartman, Aron Kopelowitz, Sruly Orzel, Hersh Yitzchak Reich, a’h, Yossi Rottenberg, Zev Unger, a’h, and Izzy Zand had quite a journey ahead. It began in the basement of Reich’s parents, then moved to the basement of Kew Gardens Hills resident Arnold Lamm for a few months, and later to the barn house originally located on the corner of 150th Street and 70th Road purchased by the Yeshiva of Central Queens. An agreement was reached for the shul members to pick up the heating and electric bills until the structure was eventually demolished to make way for the present building of the esteemed yeshiva. For its first official summer, the shul took residence in the beis midrash of the Young Israel of Queens Valley. Around that time, Abraham B. Wasserman had purchased the Plaid Stamp Redemption Center located at the current site of Shevach High School – Shaarei Bnos Chayil. The minyan conducted its services there for roughly a year until the construction of YCQ culminated in 1974, allowing the group to transfer back to its home, first in the library and later to the finished beis knesses currently in use by the student body and shul membership to this very day. During this transfer, the group opted to drop the “Zeirei” prefix and transition into the Agudath Israel of Kew Gardens Hills as its members had matured. The shul remains the only affiliated Agudah in the Queens area.
Much appreciation is extended to the original executive director, Rabbi Menachem Rottenberg, and presently Rabbi Yaakov Lonner, who have each stood by the shul’s respectable evolution as a mainstay of Kew Gardens Hills’ illustrious history. Nowadays, a core group maintains a daily minyan and daf yomi shiur.
Rabbi Noam Gordon, a Kew Gardens Hills local, was the earliest spiritual leader of the congregation. With only the Young Israel shuls of Kew Gardens Hills and Queens Valley in operation along with Rabbi Gelernter, Rabbi Margulies of Congregation Degel Israel, and Rabbi Weisel’s Chasam Sofer, the Agudath Israel of Kew Gardens Hills was a sought-after phenomenon for the bustling neighborhood. The minyan quickly flourished and had chairs literally lining the back walls. In 1980, the shul was privileged to appoint the venerable Rav Aliezer Shedrowitzky, shlita, as its mara d’asra. The rav was a true manhig ruchani throughout his 36-year reign and formulated Yeshivas HaMasmidim that serves as a mishmar learning program for boys on Monday nights during the school year in the shul’s main sanctuary. Precisely three years ago, the shul held an elaborate melaveh malkah to honor the rav’s tenure and bestowed upon him the title of rav emeritus. Rabbi Moshe Baruch Kaufman, shlita, of Lakewood, grew up in the shul and soon assumed its leadership. Currently, Rabbi Moshe Sokoloff, shlita, a noted lecturer and community maggid shiur, leads the congregation with distinction. The presiding mara d’asra added, “Every Shabbos is filled with new experiences and special moments to cherish for a lifetime. I commend the membership on this prestigious occasion and wish many more times of celebration for all.”
Events at the Queens Jewish Center
Purim Seudah, Tuesday, March 10 following 4 p.m. Minchah at the Queens Jewish Center, 66-05 108th St., Forest Hills. Games, costume contest, Purim simcha. Adults: $27/members, $30/not-yet-members; kids: $8/members, $10/not-yet-members. RSVP by March 3 by calling the office at 718-459-8432 or online.
Scholars-in-Residence Shabbos, March 13 and 14 at the Queens Jewish Center, 66-05 108th St., Forest Hills, featuring Rabbi Ezra and Dr. Rivka Schwartz. Rabbi Schwartz is rosh yeshiva and associate director of semicha at YU-RIETS, and served 10 years as rabbi of Mt. Sinai Jewish Center in Washington Heights. Dr. Schwartz is associate principal at SAR High School, co-director of its Machon Siach, and a research fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.
March 13—8 p.m. Friday-night dinner: R’ Schwartz will speak on “Intriguing Cases of Pikuach Nefesh on Shabbos.” Dr. Schwartz will speak about “Kochi V’Otzem Yadi: Power, Privilege, and Perspective.”
March 14—9 a.m. minyan, derashah by Rabbi Schwartz. A hot Kiddush will follow davening. 5:20 p.m. pre-Minchah shiur by Rabbi Schwartz: “Contemporary Kashrus Questions You Never Thought Of.” 6:10 p.m. Minchah followed by Shalosh Seudos—Dr. Rivka Schwartz “Choosing to Be Obligated. The Challenges of Observance in the Contemporary World.”
Friday-night dinner cost: $30/members, $35/not-yet-members; children 12 and under: half price. Sponsorships are available. To RSVP, call office at 718-459-8432 or visit MyQJC.org/event/SIR-Schwartz.
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 email email@example.com.