Flight 613, Prepare for Boarding: In September 1995, Rabbi Zalman Wolowik and his wife, Chanie, arrived to establish a Chabad Center to serve the Five Towns and surrounding communities. Filled with enthusiasm and inspired by the blessing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ob’m, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Wolowik began to assess the needs of the community and to determine how they could make a positive impact on Jewish life in the Five Towns. People wondered and asked what they were doing here and how long they’d stay.
“It’s a one-way trip we take,” explained Wolowik. “It’s a lifetime investment that we do. There’s no return.”
With the addition of Susy Adler and Suzanne Wallin as Gan Chamesh directors, Rabbi Meir and Rebbetzin Hadassah Geisinsky as youth directors, Batsheva Borenstein as Friendship Circle director, Miriam Feldheim as office manager, and many other invaluable partners, Chabad continues to soar to new heights of serving the community’s needs.
Fasten Your Seatbelts as We Prepare for Liftoff: On Sunday, January 12, 2020, 6:30 p.m., Chabad of the Five Towns invites you to its gala dinner buffet and awards presentation at the first-class TWA Hotel, Terminal 5, JFK, Constellation Ballroom. Tickets: $600 per couple. Book at Chabad5Towns.com or contact 516-295-2478.
As with any successful flight, especially one that has lasted 25 years and counting, it could not happen without a top-notch crew.
Guests of Honor: Avi and Karen Shapiro.
Abraham and Karen Shapiro were among the first ten members of Chabad of the Five Towns. Abraham and Karen recall the shul’s first Simchas Torah, and the rabbi dancing together with their two daughters, toddlers at the time, Jessica and Amanda. Twenty-five years later, the Shapiros celebrated bat mitzvahs, weddings, births, and baby-namings together with Chabad of the Five Towns. Their children and grandchildren — Jessica, Zev, Amanda, Alex, Margalit, and Rivka Esther — all feel part of the Chabad of the Five Towns family.
Abraham attended Yeshiva Etz Chaim and Rabbi Jacob Joseph High School. He davened at Yavne Jewish Theological Seminary, where his father, Rabbi Solomon K. Shapiro, was the rabbi. Karen attended Yeshiva Ateres Yisrael and davened at Young Israel of Canarsie, where her father, Alvin L. Markowitz, was a founding member. Even though neither of them grew up in Chabad, when they moved to Cedarhurst 30 years ago, they both became “Chabadniks.”
Abraham received his bachelor’s of science degree cum laude from SUNY Albany and his MBA from CUNY Baruch College. He also holds a nursing home administrator license and Life, Health, Property, and Casualty Insurance Sales License, both from New York State. Abraham worked for 20 years as an equity options floor trader while a member of the American Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange Options Floor. In the last 15 years, Abraham has worked at New York City Health and Hospital for Coler Nursing Care and Rehabilitation Center. Karen works as a teacher in the HAFTR Early Childhood department.
Both their daughters attended HAFTR elementary and high school, seminary in Israel, and Queens College. Jessica and Zev Kahane, with their daughter Margalit, live in Teaneck. Jessica, while pursuing a masters in marketing, works for NCSY, and Zev is a rebbe at The Moriah School of Englewood. Amanda and Alex Israeli, with their daughter Kiki, live in Queens. Amanda is a nurse at NYU and Alex is an occupational therapist.
Guests of Honor: Haim and Jackie Svartz.
Jackie and Haim are both new to the United States. Haim was born in Russia and raised in Israel, and Jackie was born in Argentina and raised in Paraguay. They moved to the United States in 1999 and moved to the Five Towns six years ago. They are the proud owners of Service Master by GBS Restoration which helped hundreds of families in recovering their homes and businesses from mold, water, and fire damages.
The Svartzes brought three wonderful kids to this world: Gal, 16; Benjamin, 15; and Sophia, 12. The entire family is very active in the Jewish community and they are always trying to grow the Chabad family. Gal and Benjamin are members of CTeen and Sophia is in Hebrew School. They love being a part of the Chabad youth activities.
The Svartzes are dedicated parents who always support their kids in any decisions they make, and fight to achieve success and happiness for each of them. Their motto is: “Honoring parents is one of the hardest commandments in the Torah.” Although they are always challenged in raising their children in the right path, Rabbi Meir and Hadassah Geisinsky have helped them tremendously. They have given them guidance and made them feel like a part of their family. They hope to continue to be inspired and grow with this wonderful community.
Pillar of Chessed: Paula Friedman.
Paula Friedman welcomes new and old faces at Chabad of the Five Towns and is a good friend to everyone. She is a loving wife to Avi, mother to Stephanie and Yechiel, and grandmother to new baby Sammy. While she firmly supported her children as they attended YCQ, Central, DRS, Netiv Aryeh in the Old City, and Binghamton, her Jewish education continues every day with shiurim in person and via chat, and regular attendance at shul.
We have all heard the refrain, “It takes a village to raise a child.” These days, villages are hard to come by, and many mothers, elderly, and ill are mostly left to handle issues, big and small, on their own. Enter Paula Friedman. She is always there to help anyone she senses needs an extra boost. Rides to doctors’ appointments, meals, babysitting, errands. Her appointment calendar is jam-packed with other people’s appointments! On Shabbos at Chabad, she is one of the first to head to the kitchen as one of our beloved Kiddush Ladies.
Paula was born in the Boston area in a Jewish traditional family. Shabbat was celebrated though not observed. Paula was in first grade in public school and hated it. When Paula’s Cuban-born mother, Marta, a’h, saw an advertisement for free Sunday school for public-school children, her father, Irving, a’h, took her to Sunday school and she remembers being so happy there. A few weeks into Sunday School, Rabbi Gurkow told her father he was starting a girls’ elementary school in Shaloh House. The rav asked if Paula would be interested in going. Paula remembers her six-year-old self feeling ecstatic at leaving public school. Her brother, Jonathan, a’h, went to preschool at Shaloh House as well, but then the classes were only for girls so he was sent to Lubavitch Yeshiva. Eventually Paula ended up in Yeshiva Tomchai Temimim-Lubavitch Yeshiva-New England Hebrew Academy. Rabbi Meir’s wonderful grandfather, Rabbi Joshua T. Kastel, ran the school at that time.
Paula made the move to New York to attend Touro College. She met her husband, Avi, and they lived in Queens for a while before settling in Cedarhurst. Paula and Avi met Rabbi Wolowik when they moved in because Chabad was what she was always familiar with. They tried other shuls too but were always warmly welcomed at Chabad — especially by her dear friend Leah Muller. Bill Muller asked Paula to help with a mailing while the shul was still in the storefront. She couldn’t say no and attributed this to how she became a part of the shul. At some point, Paula was asked to arrange two weeks of meals for families that had new babies. This also led to shivah meals. She also helps picking up pushkas, dropping off flyers, helping at assorted events, subbing at Gan Chamesh, and servicing of the Shabbat hospital suite in St. Francis with Tova Brill and Elina Gavrilova.
While her husband can be a tough lawyer by day, Paula notes, throughout all of her endeavors, “Avi always encourages me to do what I can. He is the best partner in the world.”
Dor L’Dor Award, Gan Chamesh Family of the Year: Barry and Sandy Goldsmith, Moshe and Ahuva Rubel.
Ahuva and Moshe Rubel are native Five Towners, both born and raised in the community in which they are now raising their beautiful children, Rosie, a Gan Chamesh student, and Aaron.
Ahuva is the very first Gan Chamesh nursery school graduate — a member of the first class — to have a child in Gan Chamesh! Her paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Barry and Sandy Goldsmith, always felt supported in their Yiddishkeit through Chabad of the Five Towns and were active members of the shul from early on.
Ahuva’s brother, who has special needs, was greatly supported by Chabad as he integrated into yeshiva. One of her brother’s Friendship Circle volunteers remains one of his closest friends. Now a pediatric nurse at South Nassau Communities Hospital, Ahuva warmly recalls, while in high school, volunteering with Friendship Circle and going to the Wolowik home before Pesach to help prepare — peeling potatoes — and soaking in the excitement of yom tov. She is forever grateful for her early education at Chabad, which, she says, instilled within her a love of Torah.
Moshe grew up in Lawrence and attended Darchei Torah and Yeshiva of Far Rockaway High School. He is a therapist and also works as a beloved rebbe at HANC Middle School and HAFTR High School, and as a social worker at Ohel Beis Ezra.
SkyMall: Don’t miss out on the exciting raffles: 1 Ticket: $25 | 5 Tickets: $100: Two round-trip tickets to reconnect with your roots, donated by Flywithclass.com; a large Kav Ari megillah with a beautiful leather case valued at $1,200, donated by Machon Stam; $1,000 AMEX gift card, donated by Dr. and Mrs. Rubin and Mandy Brecher; Canon EOS Rebel T7i DSLR Camera with 18 – 55mm lens valued at $849 and 2 round-trip JetBlue tickets anywhere in the U.S. valued at $500, donated by Ari and Miriam Goodman and Yosef Yitzchak and Penina Batsheva Popack; MACBOOK AIR, donated by a friend of Chabad; beautiful bouquet of flowers for Shabbat every week for a year, donated by Gidon and Alla Shema of Jerusalem Florist.
“We Have Reached Our Cruising Altitude” (but Chabad will never cruise): Chabad of the Five Towns and North Woodmere is an established presence in the Five Towns, recognized as a center of activity, infusing Jewish life with meaning and joy. “This takes enormous devotion and untiring commitment, and that’s what we’re here for,” Chanie says. “We will spare no effort to bring positive Jewish expression to the lives of young and old of varied backgrounds and affiliation.”
Help them in this mission by purchasing an ad in the scroll of honor, purchasing raffle tickets, or, best of all, attending the dinner. RSVP at ChabadFiveTowns.com/Dinner.